Working women have unhealthy children, says survey

Last Updated 06 November 2011, 07:26 IST

As many as 56 per cent of working women have children with problems such as overweight which may aggravate into lifestyle diseases like cardio-vascular disorder and fatty liver when they grow into adults, it said.

The problem was far less with the women who take up part time assignments. Only 28 per cent of these women have kids with unhealthy physical attributes.

On the other hand, homemakers' kids are a lot healthier as they are less into junk foods like pizza, burgers, pasta and aerated drinks, the study done by Assocham Development Foundation said.

The study was done on 2,000 students in 25 schools in different cities, including the metropolis Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Chandigarh.

"One in five kids in the metropolitan cities is overweight and they are more likely than normal weight children to grow up to be obese adults and suffer from obesity-related conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and fatty liver disease," Assocham said in a statement quoting its Health Committee Chairman B K Rao.

Rao, who is also chairman of the Critical Care Medicine Department in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said: "A healthy diet plays a preventive role in relation to nutrition-related conditions such as overweight, obesity and dental disease and osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus, later in life."

The chamber said that the canteens in schools have a role to play. "With child obesity levels rising and physical activity declining, it is important that canteens provide healthy and nutritious food," it said.

These comments also reflect concerns in a public interest litigation filed recently seeking ban on sale of junk food in Delhi school canteens.

Working parents tend to spend more of their food budget eating out and on fast foods. They may also have less regular family meals, the chamber said.

Over 67 per cent of children mostly eat crisps or sweets between meals and 75 per cent mostly drink sweeten drinks, while a total of 81 per cent watch television or use the computer for at least two hours a day. Changes in the children's physical activity, time spent unsupervised or watching television, the survey said.

The study found that children of working mothers have more freedom to eat unhealthy fast food and watch television for hours and have less time to prepare more nutritious.
It also observed that pressure of job leave women short of time to prepare healthy family meals, so their children will have TV dinners more often.

Mother who work part-time or are able to work more flexible schedules have children that are more likely to have healthy diet and exercise behaviours.

About 60 per cent parents liked their children to carry home-cooked food to school on all six days, though 51 per cent of them also give Rs 20-40 to their children to buy canteen food.

Also, around 46 per cent children spend Rs 50 every day at canteens with burgers and noodles selling the most 45 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.

(Published 06 November 2011, 07:26 IST)

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