Are your young kids making you fat?

Mothers of young children were heavier and ate more calories, sugary drinks and fatty foods than childless women, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Dads were also less active than their child-free peers.

According to the AP:

“The study involved 1,520 adults aged 25 on average, including parents with children younger than 5 years old. They were among more than 4,000 Minneapolis-area public school students enrolled in a study in their teens; the new study includes those who responded to two follow-up health surveys and answered questions about their diet and activity.”…

“Mothers ate more fatty foods and drank about seven sugary drinks weekly, versus about four among childless women. Moms also had an average of 2,360 calories daily, 368 calories more than women without children. With that many calories, women that age would need to be active to avoid gaining weight, walking more than 3 miles daily at a moderate pace.”

“But mothers got on average a little more than two hours of at least moderate activity weekly, versus three hours weekly among childless women. Mothers had a slightly higher average body-mass index than childless women — 27 versus 26. Healthy BMIs are in the 19-24 range.”

“Fathers ate about the same amount of daily calories as childless men and both had an average BMI of about 25, but fathers got less physical activity — about five hours weekly, compared to almost seven hours among childless men….”

” ‘This isn’t a study about blame,’ said co-author Jerica Berge, a University of Minnesota researcher. ‘This is about identifying … a very high-risk time period’ for parents that doctors should be aware of so they can offer solutions, she said.”

“That may include diet advice, parent-child exercise classes, or just getting parents to take walks with their kids, the researchers said.”

I am heading out the door to walk with my 4-year-old, but I wanted to share this story with you quickly. Do I think this study is true? Heck yes!  Let’s take for example the fact that I haven’t been able to go to they gym for a week because my 4-year-old has been sick. (We have a very diligent child care staff at our Y. No sick kids!) Also I think moms grab to eat what is fast, easy and comforting — carbs! Salads are much harder to put together than a sandwich. In the past I have also tended to “reward” myself at night after we finally got the kids to sleep. Rewards usually involved chocolate at 10 p.m. This will not help weight loss.

What do you think of this study? Do you think it’s true? Did you find it true for yourself? How old do kids have to be for moms to have time to get their bodies back? (We always thought the middle school moms looked more pulled together than the elementary school moms.) What is your advice on how to have convenient healthy food ready to grab and keep up with exercise with small children in the house?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania

16 comments Add your comment

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 11th, 2011
3:16 pm

“Are your young kids making you fat?”

No. They may make it harder for you to keep the fat off, but at the end of the day the only person who makes you fat is you. Own it. You eat like crap and don’t exercise enough because you don’t have the will to not eat healthy and exercise. Don’t blame your kids when they’re young for your own inadequacies…it will only lead to blaming them when you’re older for the rest of the things you did to yourself that you don’t want to take responsibility for…..”I don’t have enough retirement…damn college costs”….”I never got to go to australia…freaking extra plnne tickets to buy”….”I got a divorce because caring for the kids caused my husband and I to stop focusing on each other”….”I never have sex because I’m too tired after caring for the kids”… control your own destiny, at least be honest and say “I’m (fill in the blank) because I allowed myself to be.”


April 11th, 2011
3:31 pm

Ditto what @Tiger said….because apparently being a mom has made me too lazy to type out a full answer myself. LOL.


April 11th, 2011
3:38 pm

Tiger took the words right out of my mouth!


April 11th, 2011
3:41 pm

Actually I find this a little surprising….I was running and playing with my little ones so much that getting enough exercise was not an issue.


April 11th, 2011
3:47 pm

It’s because today’s Moms can’t say NO to fast food, sodas, candy, junk food. The kids scream and yell and cry, and momma gives in, because it’s just easier than saying NO and actually putting some thought into nutrition. But as long as McDonalds posts their nutrition (or lack thereof), it’s healthy……WTH????

Just last week, I was at the corner store. A rather large woman was with her two rather large kids, both under the age of 10. Both kids had three bags of candy each, and a soda, and were crying, because Mom wouldn’t let them get a bag of chips……they got in the car, and DROVE across the street to their house.

Today’s Moms don’t know how to cook a healthy meal for her family, nor do they take the time, you know, planning a menu, making a grocery list, or actually going to the grocery store. Or how to make everyone sit down together and actually TALK to each other. No technology at the table.

Today’s Moms have overscheduled themselves and their children, therefore they are forced to eat fast food at the drive through as they are being carted from activity to activity. When I was growing up, going out to eat once a week was a treat for us. My mom and dad had a full time jobs and my dad travelled a good bit, but she cooked for us every night, except one night a week. That was our treat…..and her night off.

Today’s Mom’s are trying so hard to outdo the other, that they have forgotten what is important.

And apparently Dads have NO input whatsoever.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 11th, 2011
3:52 pm

Enter your comments here


April 11th, 2011
3:56 pm

Just look in Fat Mom’s or Fat Dad’s grocery cart; processed food.


Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 11th, 2011
4:05 pm

@Photius…the decision to consume processed foods precludes the consumption. you can’t blame processed foods any more than you can blame kids for parents eating them. I’ve never seen a kid or a stouffer’s lasagna putting a gun to a person’s head and forcing that person to eat the stuff. The responsibility lies solely on the consumer to either eat the stuff or to choose a healthier option. Same goes for exercise. Watch TV or sit on the couch….It’s not Survivor’s fault the person sits on the couch.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 11th, 2011
4:08 pm

Momsrule — I was worried I had rheumatoid arthritis when I first had Walsh (turned out it was just tendinitis from holding a heavy baby one armed while helping a toddler with the other arm) but I had to fill all these forms out at the doc’s office. she asked are you very active and I said yes. I am chasing a toddler and taking care of an infant all day. And she said that is just activity not exercise and she declared didn’t count. I thought I was pretty active until that appointment.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 11th, 2011
4:14 pm

TWG…your doctor is right.

Let's see...

April 11th, 2011
4:43 pm

…baby nursing, mom’s hand in the chip bag. Baby finishes nursing so mom puts it down and plays with toddler on the floor, crawling, swinging arms, and moving about. Baby wakes and mom puts baby back to nurse. Mom hands is back in the cookie or chip bag while baby nurses and toddler pulls on her leg. Mom soothes toddler while baby nurses – hand still in the cookie bag.

Mom finishes with baby and puts toddler down to nap; while toddler naps mom runs vacuum or washes clothes; once clothes are in washer she sits down to hold infant, with one had in the cookie bag. Repeat this 10 hours a day – yep, activity only, no exercise….

Note to self – get new husband who will let me exercise while I make dinner…

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 11th, 2011
5:51 pm

“Mothers of young children were heavier and ate more calories, sugary drinks and fatty foods than childless women”….

Ya know…if you just smoked cigarettes instead of munching on something fatty, you’d get the benefits of not eating those bad foods as well as the nicotine suppressing your appetite for longer than a donut will. Oh wait, you’d probably view that as a bad decision with regards to your health so you’ll abstain from smoking…..instead opting for a donut or fatty food…which is a bad decision with regards to your health….I’m confused…why is the cigarette argument the one that is ridiculous?


April 11th, 2011
5:51 pm

When I was single it was nothing to be at the gym every night for almost two hours, come home and shower and then either head out for the night or hang out with my roommates. We were all active in our “single’s pad” and ate a really healthy diet and we had the freedom to do as we wished. Now that I am a parent, I delt with large amounts of guilt for working and having her in daycare for 9-10 hours a day and couldn’t bring myself to leave again for the gym. Thankfully I got help and figured out that I am a much better mom when I workout and feel good about myself. I am now back to where I was before I had the baby and I force myself to take at least one day off from working out/ soccer matches just to keep my body healthy.

It is all a matter of choice and you chose what you will be and what your chidren will be. I am happy that my daughter would rather grab an apple or banana while in Publix than anything else and knows what a treat “junk food” is. Trust me, we have it all in the house, but we have to throw most of it away after eating one or two out of the box. The main difference is the time and knowing that you are worth it to yourself and your family to be healthy.

Side note, I almost p**ped my pants while out window shopping this weekend. JCP had a Plus size kids section. What the heck?? I have never seen anything like that in my life, but I guess the need is out there or else why would a store have a section like this? I fear for kids growing up today and hope that things change, but I doubt it. People are too lazy and it just seems too hard and there is an excuse for everything.


April 12th, 2011
6:22 am

The only way kids are making you fat is if you are eating them. Kids don’t make one fat. Consuming more calories than burning makes one fat.


April 12th, 2011
6:39 am

I get up at 4:30 am to make sure that I have time to fit in a workout everyday. On Saturdays, I am outside running at 6:30 am. I run probably 25+ miles a week. Did I do this single or before I had kids. Heck no! I am doing this for my kids! I am doing this so I can keep up with them. I am doing this so I will be around when they get to high school. I am doing this so I have a happy calm feeling and can handle anything that they bring – (including an 18 month old who cut a 22 inch long hole in my sofa so he could take the stuffing out and make it “snow” in my living room). I wonder if the 6 year old gave him the sissors?
Anyway, I do it for them.. I do it for me. So nice to have something that is totaly mine.


April 12th, 2011
11:19 am

No. You ass is.