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Women Still Chief Household Organizers: U.K. Study

Findings suggest health promotions should target them and not men

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Three-quarters of British women still do most of the household food shopping and cooking, making them prime targets for better health-promotion policies, researchers say.

Reporting in the British Food Journal, researchers at Newcastle University's Human Nutrition Center surveyed 198 British women and men in their early 30s. Of the women who were married or cohabitating, 79 percent had the chief responsibility for household food shopping, and 72 percent did most of the food preparation and cooking.

About 25 percent of the women said they did the food shopping and cooking because they were more skilled than their husbands/partners in meal planning, budgeting, and preparation and were more in tune with their family's food preferences.

Other said they did the shopping because they could do it faster than their husband/partner, who was often tempted by "unnecessary treats," the study said.

"Women have made great progress in terms of equal opportunities over the last few decades, so it surprised us to find that many women, even in this relatively young age group, assumed the traditional female role of chief cook and food shopper," lead author and registered dietitian Dr. Amelia Lake said in a prepared statement.

"This work shows how important it is to consider the role of women when developing health intervention policies. Health professionals should also consider this when giving advice on healthy lifestyles and eating," Lake said.

"For instance, there's no point solely advising a diabetic male on how to structure his diet when he isn't doing the food shopping or cooking -- you need to see his wife, too!" Lake said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers nutrition tips.

SOURCE: University of Newcastle, news release, Dec. 11, 2006
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