Business Week Will Make You Fat!

It is the weekend, which means that I spend less time online and more time baking delicious and fatty foods. Which is kinda pertinent to the article that I just came across, on Business Week (via Jezebel) on the effect on BMI of children of working mothers.

I found the article on Business Week to be lacking in commentary and I tried to find the original study so that I could read it. I was somehow irked that the researchers would provide the equivalent of a moral judgment on working mothers (THEY MAKE THEIR KIDS FAT, OMG!), because good science tries to remain objective and just rely on data analysis, not point out social commentary on family dynamics.

Well, I didn’t find the study (not yet available online and considering it is an academic paper, chances are it will never be available to the general public without a subscription to sites that host such material). However, I did come across the next best thing available, the Press Release issued by the institution that led the research, the Society for Research in Child Development.

And here’s what Business Week left out: 1) the press release mentions “working parents” on more than one occasion, especially in terms of possible solutions to the problem, and 2) more than blaming the mothers themselves, the study points out food availability issues, socioeconomic factors and education. To sum it up in a couple of paragraphs, entirely left out by Biz Week’s more incendiary journalism:

The reasons for these findings are not entirely clear. According to the authors, one possibility is that working parents have limited time for grocery shopping and food preparation. This may contribute to a greater reliance on eating out or eating prepared foods, which tend to be high in fat and calories.

Given that more than 70 percent of U.S. mothers with young children work, the importance of providing support to these families is clear. Based on their findings, the researchers call for efforts to expand the availability of affordable, readily accessible healthy foods, and to support and educate working parents about strategies for providing nutritious meals despite busy schedules.

So, it seems that pretty much through the same scientific methods used in the reporting of this study, working mothers can make you as fat as reading Business Week. Who would have thought?

Editor’s Note – Red Light Politics kindly shares posts from her blog with us through a Creative Commons license.  I encourage you to enjoy her company there as well.  ~O.

5 thoughts on “Business Week Will Make You Fat!”

  1. Thanks for this. Im getting really tired of the childhood obesity thing. I have to say, I posture that there are some other factors at work other than just not eating well and exercising. Also, as a obese woman myself (Im borderline, but hey, that doesnt matter to the numbers)… who eats healthy and exercises ok…. I find the whole debate makes me uncomfortable, something doesnt feel right to blame all US ailments on obesity… where research LINKS to diseases, but correlation is by no means causation.

    I dont like the hoity toity better than thou attitude… bc MANY factors contribute to disease, not just fat. Stress is a BIG one (which could link to obesity, I know I stress eat) with actual biological triggers that leads to atherosclerosis and production of free radicals (cancer) and decrease your immune. Environment is another, ie pollution. I read somewhere that pollution somehow aggravates ur diabetes (not sure about that one, but, ok) and also def causes lung cancer (whats the use in not smoking, if u run and suck up all that car exhaust).

    And I DO have better things to do. Exercise hurts. Id rather cross-stitch, read a book, invent something awesome, than run around in circles. Im just saying.

  2. The article is actually available here. I didn’t need to sign into any institutional access in order to read it.

    And yes, the Business Week article butchers the hell out of the research. There are still good social scientific reasons to critique the research, however.

  3. My friend is a fancy-schmancy nutrionalist and she did a FB “open thread” last week asking why people didn’t treat their health and well-being as the most important thing in their lives. “Cost of healthy food” was a high one. A lot of people were infuriated by her response, which was: “Before you tell me you can’t afford to eat well, in a way that supplies your body with the best nutrition it can get, and spend your time preparing this food and exercising this body, I want you to review this list of things that are less important than good food and exercise: Cable television, video games, alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, “going out to eat”, heck, even doing favors for friends and family–all this stuff is fine to be important in your life, but NONE of it trumps healthy living.”

    At first I agreed that she was being a little entitled, but ultimately I agreed with her. The health and happiness one reaches by treating one’s body well are priceless.

    1. But what if you’re already not doing these things that she thinks are false priorities? I personally don’t have cable, don’t smoke, I don’t drink often, I rarely eat out, and the favors I do for family and friends are not usually monetary. And I still have to budget for food. Exercise is a different thing- I only do a lot of it in summer, when I can run outside for free. I can’t afford to join a gym. Money is a big, big deal for a lot of people. And then on top of it, it’s a pretty entitled point of view to dictate people’s priorities to them.

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