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Mothers who have full-time jobs play with their children less than those who stay at home or are unemployed and are more likely to cut back on cooking by buying prepared foods, according to a new US research to be published in the journal Economics and Human Biology.
The study shows full-time working mums spend around three-and-a-half hours fewer cooking, shopping and playing with their children each day. However, they attempt to make up this deficit by purchasing prepared foods. Other research shows links between prepared foods and childhood obesity.
The research also shows that the women’s male partners were failing to plug the gap, with working dads giving just 13 minutes a day of their time to cooking, shopping and playing with their children and those without a job devoting 41 minutes.
John Cawley, Professor of Public Analysis and Management at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, said: “It’s inaccurate to pin rising childhood obesity rates on women, given that husbands pick up so little of the slack.”
Dr Almuth McDowall, a chartered psychologist, said: “It does not take Albert Einstein to work out that time is a scarce commodity, and of course working parents are going to have less playtime for their children, and who can blame mothers for turning to ready meals if the dads don’t help?
As a full-time working mum with three children, I don’t buy supermarket meals, ever. But my husband is involved every day, this is how we do it.
So the big question is how to get other dads involved, and also how to support families and their children in other ways, so that everyone stays active and eats well.”