Mothers who devote long hours to developing their careers are more likely to have obese children, according to new research.
And youngsters from homes where the combined annual income is more than £33,000 are at the greatest risk of being overweight, according to the study.
The research, carried out by the UCL Institute of Child Health, found a direct correlation between working mothers and obese children.
The offspring of mothers who work long hours have less access to healthy foods and physical activity, and are more likely to be found in front of the television set, the study suggests.
And it reveals that lack of time, and not lack of money, is the most significant factor in childhood obesity.
The study, which is published in the International Journal of Obesity, looked at 13,113 children and interviewed their parents when they were aged nine months, and again when they were three.
Researchers found that 24% of the children of the 7,629 mothers who had jobs were overweight, and 28% of these mothers admitted they did not spend enough time with their child because of work commitments.
The experts said: "Intensity of a mother's employment was a risk factor... specifically among children from families in the highest income group.
"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'."
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"I understand the report, in as much as time to prepare meals appears to be a big factor in determining food choices. My own mother worked full-time, not because she wanted all of the comforts of life as many surveys suggest, but she, being a widow at 39, was obliged to make ends meet. She did, however, spend about an hour each night preparing the next day's meal which we then heated up when we got in from school; we also prepared the veg. I think children should be educated more on the value of food, the convenience of fresh ''fast food'' would go a long way to changing attitudes. From my patients I really get the impression that it is lack of knowledge as much as anything that causes poor eating. It might also be in the government's and our interests to place a higher tax on bad food and reduce the cost of good food " - Name and address supplied
"Working mothers are women who have a very stressful life and are strong enough to take on work as well as a family. I do not think that they should be judged BUT more should be done to help them to create a healthy lifestyle for the children as well as themselves" - Name and address supplied
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