Mums working part-time raise healthier children than their counterparts who stay at home or have a full-time job, a new Oz study has found.
The study, "Do Working Mothers Raise Couch Potato Kids?" shows that kids of part-time mums have less junk food, watch less TV and are less likely to be overweight or obese.
The study group carried out face-to-face interviews with mothers and measured their child's height and weight at ages four to five, and again two years later, at six to seven years of age.
"When mothers work part-time, there's obviously something about the way the house is run, and the way parents are looking after their children that is protective," the Daily Telegraph quoted co-author and associate professor Jan Nicholson, principal research fellow at Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute, as saying.
The study of over 4,500 Australian pre-schoolers found part-time mums let their children watch about an hour less telly each week than both stay-at-home mums and full-time working mothers.
Their kids consumed fewer snack foods, had more time to exercise and were exposed to less junk-food advertising.
The researchers said: "Although employment reduces the time parents spend at home, mothers go to considerable lengths to insulate time with their children.
"They reschedule activities, sleep less and allocate less time to personal care and leisure to ensure that time with children is protected."
The research also showed that women engaged in full-time work are likely to have unhealthier children.
The reason why stay-at-home mums have less healthy kids in spite of having more time to implement healthy behaviour is not fully understood, and researchers believe closer examination of household dynamics is needed.