TUESDAY, May 16, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Juggling a job, motherhood and a steady relationship can actually help keep women slim and healthy, according to a U.K. study that found that career homemakers are more likely to become obese.
Researchers analyzed data from women taking part in the British Medical Research Council's National Study of Health and Development, which tracks the long-term health of British women and men born in 1946. The study compared the health of the women at age 26 and at age 54.
At age 54, women who had been partners, parents and employees were significantly less likely to report health problems than women who hadn't taken on all three roles. Women who'd been homemakers for all or most of their lives, and had not had a job, were most likely to report poor health. Lone mothers and childless women were the next most likely to report poor health.
Women who'd worked over several periods of their lives were less likely to be obese than women who'd rarely worked, the study found. Weight gain tended to occur at a faster rate among homemakers -- the study found that 38 percent of long-term homemakers were obese, compared with 23 percent of women who'd worked, been partners, and had children.
Researchers at University College London reported the findings in the latest issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
The differences in the women's health at age 54 weren't explained by their health at a younger age, and their health status earlier in life did not influence whether the women became wives, mothers, or employees. Good health at age 54 is most likely the result, rather than the cause, of women adopting several roles, the study authors concluded.
The American Medical Association has more about women's health.