Moms and dads of young children tend to exercise less, eat more junk food, and weigh more when compared to kid-free men and women their same age. At least that's what a study in the journal Pediatrics says. How bad is it? The University of Minnesota study of about 1,500 relatively young adults, found that those with kids, particularly the moms, ate more fattening and sugary foods, including drinking soda, 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 hazardous to health? "This isn't a study about blame," co-author Jerica Berge, a University of Minnesota researcher, says in an Associated Press (AP) interview. "This is about identifying ... a very high-risk time period" for parents that doctors should be aware of so they can offer solutions, she notes.
Advice to seek out from your own doctor or your children's pediatrician include tips on healthy family diets, parent-child exercise classes, and how to exercise regularly as a family, even when you have a little one in tow.
And if you have relegated the skinny jeans to the back of the closet for now, it could just be temporary. As the AP report points out, the study doesn't say how recently women had their babies; extra weight could simply represent still-to-be shed pregnancy pounds. There's also no information on the number of single parents, who likely face even more diet and exercise challenges than married parents. Other experts feel that some of the mothers may have had postpartum depression, which might affect their eating and exercise habits.