The double-income bulge

When mothers work, their kids get fat, writes Tim Harford in Slate, summarizing research by a trio of economists.

They find that children are fatter if their mothers work longer hours. This is true even within families: The sibling who spent more time as a latchkey child will tend to be the fatter one, perhaps because the mother is less able to supervise outdoor play or has less time to cook and therefore buys more fast food. Unfortunately for working mothers who are already struck by guilt, the effects are pretty substantial. A mere 10 hours at work raises the chance of childhood obesity by 1.3 percentage points, which is about 10 percent.

Another study finds that children who watch more fast-food advertising outweigh children who watch less. But are kids fat because they watch TV or do they watch TV because they’re too fat for sports, unathletic or raised by non-soccer parents.

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  1. Cardinal Fang says:

    Here’s the paper itself. It turns out the effect- that kids are fatter the longer hours their mothers work- is only true for white kids, not black or Hispanic kids. It’s most true for white children of highly educated, highly paid mothers.

  2. So if I understand this correctly, it means that if a white mother works 10 hours, her child has a 14.3% chace of getting fat but if she doesn’t the chance drops to 13%? I think this is an excellent argument for keeping the men at home. Afterall, the implications of this paper are that men have no impact on their children’s weight. At least moms are in the mix enough to have some kind of impact. Or did they look at men at all???

    What a bunch of ridiculous nonsense. Yet one more way in which women are held accountable for the lives of their children while men are let completely off the hook.

    I wonder if the children of lesbian parents are even more fat if both mothers work. Yeesh!