retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters Health reports that a new study conducted by University College London of more than 8,500 UK adults born since 1958 showed that their children are 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than their parents were at their age. Which by itself isn’t news, considering how much ink and air time has been devoted to the obesity crisis.

But here’s the kicker: one of the factors that researchers believe may contribute to the higher obesity rates is the fact that so many moms today have full-time jobs, which means that many kids have fewer family meals and less healthy food in their diets.

The study does not come right out and say that working moms = more obesity; rather, it just suggests that this is one of the factors that may be contributing.

According to the story, “The trend in mothers' employment over the past few decades may be one of the variables contributing to a general erosion in children's diets; the explosion in sugary junk foods on the market, food advertising aimed at kids, and the increasing availability of high- fat, high-sugar fare in schools are among the other factors that have been blamed.

“The current study lacked information on the children's diets and exercise habits, so it is not known whether kids of working moms did in fact have poorer-quality diets or were less active.”
KC's View:
It is not hard to imagine that when moms are at work, their surrogates may not be as engaged with getting kids outside, playing with them, etc... and so less active exercise habits certainly could be as responsible for obesity as poor diet.

But...

While the facts presented by the study may be hard to argue, I have a certain problem with the conclusions ... at least to the extent that there is an implication that if fewer women worked, kids would eat better and the world would be less obese. I read this and wonder...What about the dads?

It simply isn’t fair to say to imply that women should stay home in order to solve the obesity crisis. Men could stay home, too. That may not be the way a lot of cultures are oriented, but in enlightened societies, it seems to me that the conclusions ought to be drawn differently.

Maybe what we need to do is have a world in which parents actually behave like parents. Where we all - regardless of gender - take responsibility for raising our kids, for paying attention to what they read and watch on television and look at on their computers and who they hang out with and what they’re doing and even what they are eating and drinking.

Frankly, if we did that, I have a feeling that a lot of the problems facing our society might begin to fade a bit. It won’t happen overnight, but it seems like a worthy goal and a reasonable approach.