Middle class parents need to be careful about the kind of food that goes into their kids' mouth, for a survey has found that their children are more likely to be overweight when compared to kids from poor households.
And, the leading reason for this, the survey finds, is the increasing numbers of working mothers.
AdvertisementThe study was carried out by researchers at the Institute of Child Health at University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital who followed the lives of more than 13,000 children born in the UK between 2000 and 2002.
They noted that with more and more middle class women stepping into the professional world, kids are increasingly being left behind with nannies or at nurseries where not enough attention is paid to diet or physical exercise.
As a result, kids are now indulging in rather unhealthy habits like eating loads of snack foods, drinking sweetened drinks, as well as spending hours in front of the TV.
The survey found that kids from families with an annual income between 22,000 pounds and 33,000 pounds were 10 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese than kids where income was less than 11,000 pounds.
Kids from families with an annual income of 33,000 pounds or more were 15 per cent more likely to be overweight.
Dr Susan Jebb, head of nutrition and health at the Medical Research Council, said that the survey served as a wake-up call for the middle class as it busted the myth that obesity is a problem of the poorer class.
"Obesity is something that affects middle class families as well, and that's important because many people take it to be an issue which only affects low income groups and it is absolutely not the case. This is a wake-up call for middleclass families," the Daily Mail quoted her, as saying.
The researchers stated: "Long hours of maternal employment, rather than lack of money, may impede young children's access to healthy foods and physical activity".
"For example, parental time constraints could increase a child's consumption of snack foods and/or increase television use. We found that children were more likely to be overweight if the mother reported that she did not spend enough time with her child because of work.
"We can speculate that these children may have had greater access to convenience foods and/or fewer opportunities for physical activity," they added.
The researchers noted that kids in childcare were more likely to be overweight than those cared for by their mother or her partner.
The study is published in the International Journal of Obesity.