Employment Affects Children’s Food Sources

A little food here, a little there
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Dr. Sibylle Kranz, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, says, "We found that, when the female head of household was employed, the youngest children, the 2-to-5 year olds, consumed fewer calories at home, including fewer servings of fruits and vegetables and calcium-rich foods from home. However, they consumed more calories, calcium, fruits and vegetables from school, probably as the result of the children participating in daycare programs that provide meals."

Kranz notes that the researchers expected to see a proportional relationship between the amount of time a mother worked at her job and the amount of nutrients the children received from home versus foods from other sources. However, the data revealed no such relationship.

"We were expecting to find, for example, lower calcium intake from foods from home among the children of mothers who worked part-time and even lower levels among the kids whose mothers worked full-time," she adds. "Interestingly, we found that the youngest children had more calcium in their food at school when their mothers worked full-time."

A similar positive effect was not found, however, among the older children. Just like the younger children, the older kids consumed fewer calories at home when their mothers worked part-time or full-time, including fewer servings of fruits and vegetables but, unlike the younger children, they didn't choose higher calcium foods when they ate outside the home.

The researchers write, "Overall, a balance between the benefits of working mothers, such as increased income, and the downsides, such as less time for food preparation and higher food consumption outside of the home, must be found on an individual basis."

MEDICA.de; Source: Penn State