Latchkey Kids More Likely to Struggle With Weight, Obesity

Health Writer

**For every 10 hours that a mother works, the weight of their kids increases by 1.5%.  ** Currently 14% of boys and 17% of girls ages 2 - 15 are now obese.   This new research finds a connection between women who work and an impact on the weight of their children.   And the impact is cumulative, meaning that over a ten year work period, the weight of the children continues to rise more rapidly than acceptable by average yearly expected weight gain standards for children and teens.

So what is going on here?   Here are my observations:

  • Working mothers are often overwhelmed and don't have the time or patience for grocery shopping. That means grabbing lots of prepared foods, processed foods and snacks, which translates to higher fat, sodium, sugar content in the food offerings available at home.
  • Working moms may bring home more fast food for dinner more days of the week or take their family out to eat after school snacks and dinner, which again means high calorie, less nutrient dense foods for their kids
  • After school these kids  arrive to empty homes and may do more emotional eating out of lonliness,boredom, even anger.
  • The kids may also just grab extra snacks, which are typically processed and high calorie while waiting for dinner which may be delayed if their mom is kept late at work.
  • These moms can feel guilty for working and typically "reward" their kids with food "gifts" of candy or other processed treats.
  • There isn't a whole lot of cooking and nutrition by example going on in these homes, since mom either isn't home or comes home too stressed to spend the time on  healthier preperation and cooking  practices.

So what can you do if you are a working mom?

  • Set aside one weekend day to shop and prep healthier foods and snacks
  • Buy lots of fresh produce and wash it so that is is ready-to-eat
  • Create healthier trail mix, muffins, yogurt parfaits,whole grain cooked pasta and vegetables, vegetable soups so your child has an arsenal of healthier food available
  • Leave easy-to-prepare recipes for teens to make for themselves or the family
  • Stock your pantry and frig with healthier choices like air popped popcorn, soybeans in the pod, low fat puddings, whole grain wraps, water packed tuna, high protein cereal, fat free milk, flavored waters, nuts and low fat peanut butter.

You do need to spend some time to create a healthier environment, but you will find that making these efforts weekly habits will  ensure that over time you spend less time.