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October 13, 2009

Healthy Eating: Working Parents vs. Stay-at-Home Parents

BLOG-Healthier Like so many other moms, I’m always concerned about what my boys eat. Ron and I also encourage our boys to play sports (so they stay active and get exercise) and we limit their TV-watching time, especially during the school week. But since both of us work, we’re not always around to see what they eat!

A new study from the U.K. says this could be a common problem among working mothers. It reports children of working moms watch more TV, eat more unhealthy foods, and are more sedentary than kids with stay-at-home moms!

The study surveyed more than 12,000 moms of five-year-olds. Children whose moms worked either full or part-time spent over two hours a day watching TV or at the computer on average, ate more unhealthy snacks (like chips), and were more likely to drink sugary beverages between meals. If the children had a stay-at-home mom, they watched less television and, on the whole, ate less unhealthy foods. 

Is that true here in the U.S.? Could the fact that I’m a working mother negatively affect Ryan and Adam’s health? The study thinks so. But what do you think?

We’re working on a story with ABC News about this new study. Whether you agree with the research or think it’s totally off-base, we want to hear from you! Post a comment telling us if you’re a working parent and how you keep your children healthy (or where you may have fallen short). If your story applies, we’ll be in touch and your family could be on TV!

In the meantime, check out this list of the Top-10 Healthy Snacks that we posted on our Caregiver Scoop. We also have some great ideas to keep kids active in our Child Care Articles and Resources section.

Also, please take this quick Care.com survey on healthy eating—your feedback will help us understand how to make sure our children are eating well and enjoying active lifestyles.

Let us know what you think!

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Comments

Naomi

Well, I think that this is great, but honestly isn't it the responsability of the parents to buy the food? So, ultimately kids who have unhealthy eating habits learn the behavior from the parents.
It's important to understand the concept of healthy eating. Most of us dont really know... or do we? Just because its a healthy food, doesn't necessarily mean that it is good for YOUR body. We are all different and we all digest and break down foods differently.
I believe its 100% necessary to know your blood type and to understand the IgG allergy in our bodies.

Its important to know the right diet for your child to protect them from this flu seasons. When our immunity is low...which is caused by refined sugars or junk food...or eating foods that our body has trouble breaking down, we easily get sick.

Good luck to all of you, hope this helps in keeping all of the kids and parents well!
Blessings

Naomi

Sonu

I just posted about this topic on my blog. My perspective is a little different, b/c I'm into the colors and presentation of food, even for my son who's just shy of being a one year old. Aesthetics can play a major role in exciting everyone's palette & teaching us all to make healthier choices. Have you tried eating by color?

Jennifer Parkhurst

Teaching our children to eat healthy is very critical to the current and future wellbeing of our childs physical and mental health. Today's "convenience foods" are nothing but packaged chemicals, something that has lead the way to crisis our children our facing with childhood obesity. I am a working fulltime Mother of 2. My son is an average 13 year old active & of healthy weight, my daughter 11, unfortunately has been battling a weight issue her entire life. She has always been bordering on the 95% for weight, but was "in line" with her height which always reported around the same percentage. She likes to eat and enjoys her food. When its is full of chemicals and un-natural substances, in can be detrimental to their health because our bodies were not meant to process these chemicals. We were meant to eat grains, vegetables & meats minus the preservatives & additives. I am a firm believer that these chemicals have played a large role in my daughter weight issue.
Both my husband & I workout on a continous basis, eat healthy which helps to provide a positive influence for our kids. Sometimes this is not enough. My daughter's 11 year old physical this pastin July was a wake up call for her, she had gained 22lbs in the past year, was off the charts for weight and was "severly obese" according to her BMI read of 26. I guess I was being mislead to believe that "she would grow out of it". Well it was time to take action and together, my daughter & I came up with a plan to help her. She has joined Weight Watchers, which requires a note from the pediatrician providing approval and a recommended weight range. Since July we have been extremely vigilant in making sure that we eat healthy & in accordance with the weight watchers program. We attend the meeting every Saturday together coupled with our own incentive program at home to help encourage her. It is a very sensitive topic to talk about at this age because it can really backfire on you and you can end up with a child having true eating problems (ie anorexia, bulimia).
Our incentive plan is for her to come up with a goal every week, and it does not have to be a weight loss goal. Somethings have been to eat more fruit, to learn better choices for snacks, and yes to lose a pound etc. Well since her physical in July she has lost 18 pounds and it half way toward her goal. Last week I brought her back into see her Doctors for a check up to make sure that we were still on track with where we should be. She is currently in the 95% for weight and no longer "off the charts" and has reduced her BMI to 23, which is classified as "at risk". The health benefits are very evident but its the "value add" that has really provided her the incentive, the compliments people are giving her. This has helped to improve her confidence and she is now very PROUD of her accomplishment. And think about it, why shouldn't she--not only is it difficult to lose weight in general, but I think its even harder for an 11 year old to do it. I am very proud of her accomplishments both in weight loss and the education that she is receiving on how & why its important to eat healthy.

Dina

This is absolutely NOT true, in my family's case. I am a working mom, working 40 hours a week. Both of my boys are very active because we put the effort and time into their activities and quality time. They occasionally watch TV but their activity level far outweighs the TV watching. I believe that TV is a habit that starts when children are very small. Many parents/caregivers use it as a babysitting tool. I steared clear of that early on and now do not have to deal with peeling my children away from the living room. They've always been good eaters, eating almost anything I put in front of them. My oldest (10 1/2)is more conscious about what he eats and will reach for his favorite fruits and knows what his limits are with sweets and fats. My youngest (9) tends to have a sweet tooth and does need a little nudge in the right direction. However, I chalk that up to genetics. There is always fruit and granola and 90 calorie this and thats in our house. I am also there to offer a little guidance and routine, and a plethera of information about food. I believe any child can make the right decisions when they're informed.

Julia Stewart

I am a working single mom and it is hard but I make a conscious effort to keep my daughters healthy. My 10 year old is in the 5th grade and I have always made her a healthy lunch to take with her to school each day. I know she probably trades with friends, but I have done what I can to make her lunch healthy and enjoyable. She is on a swim team and practices three days a week for 45 minutes each day. On the days she does not swim, we go for a family walk, bike ride, do yoga, or do an exercise video. I also have a 10 month old and I have always made both of my daughters baby food homemade. I have never purchased jarred baby food. I make their food out of good quality fruits and vegetables and I always know what is in it because I made it. We very seldom eat out and pretty much never eat fast food. I do not watch much TV at all. There is one show that I really enjoy watching and that is Biggest Loser, so I would say I probably only watch about 4 hours of TV a week and that includes the 30 minute soap opera, Bold and The Beautiful, that I watch with the other women at work during lunch. I would say at my house my 10 year old probably doesn't watch more than 4 hours of TV during a week. We enjoy being outside, playing games and reading.

Alison

I work from home so I have the opportunity to be there when my boys are having their snacks but I do find it increasingly difficult to get them to choose healthy snacks. One of my boys loves apples and carrots for snacks but at dinner all we can get him to eat is meat and carbs. I always offer a green vegetable as a side but getting them to eat it is another story. We have be bribe them with desert which isn't any better than them not eating their greens at all.

heather

I do think alot of children of stay at home mothers are out of control when it comes to eating alot of sugar and uncontorlled foods.I found myself doing it.And just a coulple months ago I took sugars and caffines out of our diets and we are all eating alot heathier.My two older childer have adhd so it is alot better.It is hard at first to try to get on track to change diets of a household but in the end it is better for everyone.

Andrea Priest

I think it is important to establish healthy eating/snacking habits early on. Rather than packaged snacks, I always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies around as well as nuts and raisins. My kids love apples with peanut butter or yogurt with granola sprinkled on top for a quick snack. My fridge is always stocked with plenty of water, natural juices or milk rather than powdered drinks, soda or juice boxes laden with sugar and artificial ingredients. It is our responsibility as parents not to have junk food around for our kids to eat......if it is not there they won't eat it.

Dentist Thousand Oaks

There's really big difference between working moms and moms staying home on how they take care of their children. Very interesting and informative post. Thanks for sharing this.

Mary J

Indeed whether the parents that work and those who don't make a big difference in caring the children. More than material comforts, a child needs emotional comfort.

Tg

It depends on the parents. I know working parents who only send organic, healthy foods to their child's school or daycare (as opposed to letting them eat the food served there). And I know working parents who don't know what their kids eat. I know stay-at home parents who are very attentive and I know stay-at home moms who stick their kid in front of TV while they do housework or check their Facebook page, and pay little attention to their child's foods or activity. So I think it is largely dependent on individual parents.

Natalie Loopbaanadvies

I personally think that the study is right. Since working moms are always busy, they would not have time to monitor everything about their child. It's not wrong for both parents to work, but if they could work out their schedule, wherein one can stay with the child while the other works, then that might make a huge difference.

Carol

I would say there is indeed a big difference when you make daily interaction with your kid all the time. I am a stay at home mom and I always make sure that he gets healthy meal everytime.

Marie

I work from home - so spend over 2 hours at a computer :)

I think when it comes to healthy eating - leading by example is really important. My son eats what me and his dad eat...he even used to eat off one of our plates even if he had the same thing on his...because it tastes better on mommy or daddy's plate :D

We only have the house stocked with nutritious things - there s fruit everywhere for my son to eat and his dinner always consist of a salad and lots of veggies. This has occurred since he was born and we all eat the same things.

During the day I sit and eat fruit and he will always sit with me and eat what I am eating. While he is playing I will cut him up some apples and make sure there is a selection of fruit out, nuts as well as chopped up veg like carrots/cucumber.

I have never forced him to eat anything he doesn't want to - he enjoys eating these foods. I always try to cater to what his preference is at the moment.

When he was 2 he would wake up in the night wanting a plate of broccoli - I would get it for him and then he would fall back to sleep after eating it!

Everything is always homemade - when we go out for the day I always bring food with me to avoid having to buy anything junky and processed.

My son is nearly 4 and so far although he has gone through phases of being picky with particular veggies (which I think was him testing us to see if we would force him to eat it/him wanting control) he continuously eats lots of fresh fruits/vegetables everyday. I believe this is down to watching his parents eat this way and also because we have consistently made it a part of his life. I believe they are key.

Also my son only drinks water and fresh OJ that I squeeze for him. When he is thirsty he has water. He has never had pop or store bought drinks and never asked for them either.

I think a mother who is at home is more able to be consistent with food choices with their children but I don't see why a working mother can't keep her cupboards stocked with nutritious snacks and lead by example when she is home for dinner.

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