Any busy parent could have written the conclusion to a new Temple University study on crazy-busy families and the food choice we make. Yes, we hit the drive through on the way from after-school care to softball practice. Yes, we collapsed into a booth at the nearest pizza parlor on Friday night because we all needed a break. No, I never cooked the kale in the fridge – no time. We ate hoagies.
But that doesn’t mean the new report, titled “Parental employment and work-family stress: Associations with family food environments” published in the July issue of Social Science and Medicine, has nothing to tell us. “For both parents, the more stress they were feeling about work getting in the way of family, the more we saw unhealthful dietary habits by parents and fewer opportunities for healthful eating in the home,” said lead author, Katherine Bauer, an assistant professor of public health and researcher at Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education.
The study looked at 3,709 parents of teens. Two out of three fathers and about half of the mothers worked full-time.
It’s a little hard not to feel guilty about the findings – or a little smug if you’re a parent who is at home by choice to take care of the kids:
- Bauer and her team found that moms with full-time jobs reported fewer family meals, less frequent encouragement of their adolescents' healthful eating, lower fruit and vegetable intake, and less time spent on food preparation, compared to part-time and not-employed mothers.
- And parents experiencing high levels of work-life stress reported having one and a half fewer family meals per week and eating half a serving less of fruits and vegetables per day, as compared to parents with low levels of work-life stress.