Parental Employment and Children’s Body Mass Index: A Developmental Perspective

Taryn Morrissey, American University

We investigated whether mothers’ employment across a child’s lifetime is associated with their children’s body mass index (BMI) at adolescence, and whether children’s time use explains this association. Multivariate regression analyses predicted children’s BMI at 15 years of age from their mothers’ work hours at different developmental periods: prenatal, infancy, preschool, middle childhood, and adolescence, using longitudinal data from the NICHD’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 773). Children whose mothers worked during middle childhood (6-10 years of age) had higher BMI z-scores and were more likely to be overweight at age 15 than those whose mothers were not employed during that period. The time children spent in self-care, watching TV, or in physical activity did not to mediate these associations. Maternal employment during other developmental periods was unrelated to child BMI at adolescence.

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Presented in Session 123: Families and Health and Nutrition