Working mums know how hard it is to get the work-life balance right. You have to make ends meet, do the school runs, make sure your love one's mouths are fed. The list goes on.


According to a study, the years spent juggling a job and family could be putting the pounds on your child.


Researchers at the IZA - the Institute of Labour Economics in Germany - looked at the effect that parents working lives had on their children's diet. Their study suggests that when both parents are working, the child's diet may suffer and can lead to childhood obesity.


They used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which tracked nearly 10,000 Americans from 1986 to 2014. It found that the rise of working mothers causes more than 10% of the childhood obesity epidemic. 



The study, “Parental Work Hours and Childhood Obesity: Evidence Using Instrumental Variables Related to Sibling School Eligibility,” focused on the rise in recent years of maternal labour, but noted that there was “no evidence” that there was a significant difference between the effects of mothers and fathers who work.


In other words, mums shouldn't accept all the blame. Obesity occurred if dads continued to work the same hours or more. 


The study highlighted some of the reasons for the link between working parents and childhood obesity including a change in family routine, diet and time spent by the parent working.


“Parental employment is likely to reduce beneficial routines, such as regular family meals and physical activities with children,” the study concluded. “At the same time, parental employment might lead to unhealthy routines, such as television-watching and restaurant meals.”




Childhood obesity has tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). The number of obese children is steadily rising in the UK and Ireland as well. Obesity is being aided by children's easy access to fattening foods and their relentless interest with mobile phones or tablet apps.


A similar report from April found that children who adopt a daily routine will have improved emotional health and will be less likely to be obese. Previous studies have shown that the risk of obesity was lower when preschoolers had adequate sleep, ate meals with their families, and spent less time online.


"Sleep is so important, and it's important for children in particular. Although there is much that remains unknown about how sleep impacts metabolism, research is increasingly finding connections between obesity and poor sleep," said Sarah Anderson, a professor at Ohio State's College of Public Health, in collaboration with University College London and Temple University in Philadelphia.


Still, you've got to give it to mums. Many women take on extra housework to keep things running smoothly:  A third of mothers spend at least 60 hours a week on household and family chores. That's 11 minutes more than their male counterparts.


What do you think of the study? Let us know in the comments.