April 11, 2011

Childless Women Eat Healthier Than Mothers

A study found that mothers of young children were heavier and ate more calories, sugary drinks and fatty foods than childless women.

The study authors said that parents who choose quick and easy prepared foods may end up serving them to their children, perpetuating a cycle of unhealthy eating.

"This isn't a study about blame," co-author Jerica Berge, a University of Minnesota researcher, told the Associated Press (AP). "This is about identifying ... a very high-risk time period" for parents that doctors should be aware of so they can offer solutions, she said.

The researchers said that may include diet advice, parent-child exercise classes, or just getting parents to take walks with their children.

The study questioned 1,520 aged 25 on average, including parents with children younger than 5 years old. 

The study found that mothers ate more fatty foods and drank about seven sugary drinks weekly, versus about four among childless women.  Moms ate an average of 2,360 calories a day, which was 368 more calories than women who did not have kids.

Mothers who were questioned said they had gotten about a little more than two hours of a moderate activity each week, versus three hours weekly from women who were childless.  Mothers also had a slightly higher average body-mass index than childless women.

The study found that fathers ate about the same amount of daily calories as childless men and both had an average BMI of about 25.  However, fathers got about five hours of physical activity a week, versus the seven that men without children had.

Sarah Krieger, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and St. Petersburg Florida dietitian, said in a statement that some of the mothers may have had postpartum depression, which might affect their eating and exercise habits.

The study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.


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