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Having Kids Might Make Young Women Heavier, Less Fit
Date:4/11/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Young mothers tend to be heavier than their peers who don't have children, and they also consume more saturated fat, sugary beverages and total calories, a new study suggests.

Examining data from Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults), researchers from the University of Minnesota focused on the link between parental status, dietary intake, physical activity and body mass index (BMI) in 838 women and 682 men with an average age of 25.

While fathers were no heavier than their non-parenting peers, mothers had significantly higher BMIs, and both moms and dads exercised less frequently. But despite their greater intake of fat, sugar and calories, the young mothers also consumed as much fruit, dairy, whole grains and calcium as non-mothers, the study found.

Study author Jerica Berge said these mothers might be assuming more child-care duties than the dads, leading to the weight disparity. The aftereffects of pregnancy might also be a factor, she said.

"Maybe moms are taking on more responsibilities -- including cooking the food for the kids, with these high-fat choices," said Berge, an assistant professor of family medicine and community health. "In parenting, there are conflicting demands and tradeoffs. It could [also] be they're too tired at the end of the day and might not want to go to the gym."

The study is published online April 11 in the journal Pediatrics.

Project EAT, a longitudinal population study, followed young participants through three age points between 1998 and 2009, as they progressed into young adulthood.

Participants who became parents between the second and third follow-ups and had a child aged 5 or younger formed the parent group in the study.

Height and weight were self-reported, while a food-frequency questionnaire was used to assess the typical intake of such f
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