Negative Health Behaviors Identified in Young Parents

Mothers have poorer diet, higher BMI, and both parents have lower physical activity

MONDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Parents of young children have lower physical activity levels compared to young adults of the same age without children, and mothers have poorer dietary intake and higher body mass index (BMI) compared to women without children, according to a study published online April 11 in Pediatrics.

Jerica M. Berge, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined whether parents of children age 5 years or younger had different dietary intake, physical activity, or BMI compared with young adults without children. Gender-stratified data were collected from 838 women and 682 men who participated in the second and third waves of the Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults Project. Results for each health behavior outcome were adjusted according to the level five years earlier.

The investigators found that parents and nonparents had many similar dietary behaviors, but mothers reported increased consumption of total energy, sugar-sweetened beverages, and percent saturated fat. Compared to women without children, mothers had higher mean BMI, but there was no difference seen in the BMI between fathers and men without children. Compared to nonparents, both mothers and fathers had lower physical activity levels.

"Our results suggest that parenthood may be contributing to poorer dietary intake and higher BMI in young adult mothers and lower physical activity in both young adult mothers and fathers," the authors write.

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