Opinion Brief

Are your kids making you fat?

A new study finds that parents, especially young moms, eat more junk food and exercise less than people without children

Call it "the latest knock against parenthood": A new study published in the journal Pediatrics says raising children can make you fat. Researchers from the University of Minnesota, in a study of about 1,500 relatively young adults, found that those with kids, particularly the moms, ate more fattening food and exercised less than their childless counterparts. Moms consumed an average of 2,360 calories per day, compared to 1,992 for women without kids, while the mothers only got 4.5 hours of physical activity per week, compared to six hours for the other women. Is having children really hazardous to your health?

Yes. Moms do not have time for the gym: Parenting and weight loss absolutely don't mix, says Theresa Walsh Giarrusso at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Take for example the fact that I haven't been able to go to they gym for a week because my 4-year-old has been sick." And moms have to "eat what is fast, easy and comforting — carbs! Salads are much harder to put together than a sandwich." And I can't be the only one who rewards myself with chocolate after the kids finally go to sleep...
"Are your young kids making you fat?"

Moms should get healthy — for their kids: "Mothers put their children's needs first and their own health second," says Rebecca Odes at Babble. And society reinforces that by telling parents they're selfish if they make time for the gym. But the best time to instill "healthy eating and activity habits" is when our children are young. So parents should set a good example by exercising and eating right, because that "may just be the key to healthier kids and a healthier future."
"Do kids make you fat?"

It might not be as bad as you think: Sure, young moms don't have as much time for the treadmill as other women, says Jeremy Olson at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. But they do lug toddlers in and out of strollers, and chase them around playgrounds. Need more exercise, but don't have the time? You can always bike to work. And resist the "temptation" to eat the food your kids leave untouched on their plates. Every little bit helps.
"Eat right? Exercise? New parents lag behind peers"

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