Children of working mums ‘less healthy’

‘Stay at home' mums have more time

Children whose mothers work are less likely to lead healthy lives than those with ‘stay at home’ mothers, a study says.

The Institute of Child Health study of more than 12,500 five-year-olds found those with working mothers less active and more likely to eat unhealthy food.

About 60% of mothers with children aged up to five are estimated to be in work. Researchers found that five-year-olds whose mothers worked part-time or full-time were more likely to primarily consume sweetened drinks between meals.

They used their computers or watched television for at least two hours a day compared to the children of ‘stay at home’ mothers who spent less than two hours on these activities. They were also more likely to be driven to school compared to the children of ‘stay at home’ mothers who tended to walk or cycle.

Professor Catherine Law, who led the study said: ‘Time constraints may limit parents’ capacity to provide their children with healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity. Our results do not imply that mothers should not work. Rather they highlight the need for policies and programmes to help support parents.’

A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Our Change4Life movement is already helping over 370,000 families eat well, move more and live longer by helping them to understand the harm that fat and added sugar can cause to children’s health, and offering them simple yet effective ways to make changes to their diet and increase their activity levels.’

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