This week’s social ill caused by feminism is?

Magic 8-ball says: Childhood Obesity. Oh, noes! It’s because feminists hate children, isn’t it? No, not quite:

Middle-class mothers who work long hours increase the risk of their offspring being overweight or obese, according to an astonishing new study.

Astonishing is right, but some women have always worked:

Research revealed by The Independent on Sunday for the first time will turn perceived wisdom on its head with the revelation that the nation’s higher-paid working mothers bear much of the responsibility for the country’s ticking obesity time bomb, and not the poorer working-class families who are usually blamed.

You hear that, all you highly paid professionals with children(women only, sorry men)? Not only as feminists are you responsible for the destruction of families, but you make them fat too!

More shockingly, the risk of childhood obesity soars in direct correlation with family income. Children in families where household income is greater than £33,000 are significantly more likely to be overweight or obese than youngsters from families with the lowest incomes, the new study shows. And in higher income households, the longer a mother worked each week, the greater the risk of the child being overweight.

More shocking is that they are just now figuring out that families with low incomes have less disposable dollars to spend on things like soda and chips. Those conscious working mothers who chose childcare facilities because of the nutritional programs that they offered, you don’t get off so easily either:

Compounding the misery for working mothers, the study found that children’s weight problems got worse if mothers relied on a nanny to hold the fort while they pursued their careers. Children in childcare are 24 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese than children cared for by their mother or her partner.

Ladies, if you are not aborting them, abusing them by not marrying the father, or abandoning them in childcare then you are plumping them up with your selfish work hours:

Dr Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “I do not wish to condemn these women but I do think the priority has to be the health of the child and its continued health into adulthood. We are in danger of raising a generation of young people with a much shorter life expectancy than previous generations.”

Next week’s edition of Blame Feminism/Working Women: Alzheimer’s, how parents with working daughters are at a higher risk.


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42 comments for “This week’s social ill caused by feminism is?

  1. preying mantis
    July 23, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    How much does anyone want to be that in about ten years, they’re going to be shocked–shocked!–that more and more women are just choosing to not have children?

  2. Kyra
    July 23, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    I wonder what the obesity rate is for the children of single fathers? If “less mother around = fatter children,” then children without mothers would be the fattest yet—but even if that proves to be the case, how likely is it that the media turns its shame-and-blame tactics on those selfish fathers who deny their kids a mother, like they do with single moms for other social ills?

    That being said, a great many parents (of both sexes, thankyouverymuch) ought to see to their kids’ nutritional and exercise habits a bit more—but at the end of the day, I give a big fat (no pun intended) “so what?” to this purported correlation. It is not acceptable to deny women happiness and fulfillment and financial agency, to enslave them to house and children, for a relatively minor potential benefit to the child’s health (trends take place among groups of individuals, with significant individual variation; there is no certainty that “mother working x hours a week makes the child 2x pounds above normal weight” or “if mommy works, child will become fat”—and besides that, most obesity can be mitigated significantly with just a few hours per week of exercise or attention to diet, which is a much more convenient solution to this than for mothers to give up many, many more hours of employment, to say nothing of its pay and the personal satisfaction that comes from doing work you enjoy.

  3. preying mantis
    July 23, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    “It is not acceptable to deny women happiness and fulfillment and financial agency…”

    That kind of depends on how highly you value women having those things, though, doesn’t it?

  4. Sniper
    July 23, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Compounding the misery for working mothers,

    Because that’s what this and every other story on this theme is really about, isn’t it.

    I don’t want to be the one to set off the inevitable Fat War, part 1,000,006, but I’ve been reading Rethinking Thin which has some very interesting data about weight and life span. It seems that while a healthy diet is linked to health, being thin is not – at least according to the few actual studies on this issue.

  5. July 23, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Sniper, I have no interest in discussing whether or not working mothers contribute to the “epidemic”, as far as I’m concerned this research was either conducted with multitudes of bias… or interpreted with the same. Not just gender, but class and probably race too. And yeah, I have my doubts about the whole obesity crisis as well, but it seems that this research is intended to appeal to women, knowing how neurotic we are and all(I feel gross just typing that).

  6. Kyra
    July 23, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    How much does anyone want to be that in about ten years, they’re going to be shocked–shocked!–that more and more women are just choosing to not have children?

    I’ll see your “shocked-shocked!” and raise you a huge media outcry blame-shaming the selfishness of so many women refusing to be mothers, with nary a word spoken about how much women are expected to give up to do so.

  7. July 23, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    ohhhh, feminist poker. i’ll see your huge media outcry and raise you a PSA on how birth control pills are polluting our water and damaging the environment.

  8. nick
    July 23, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I think it’s interesting how middle/upper class working women, who are only recently competing for mens’ jobs, are being targeted here, while lower income families, where two income households were the norm even before the start of the feminist movement, are ignored. Then again, this is a British study, and I’m speaking from an American viewpoint, so things may be different on the other side of the pond.

    Actually, I’d like to see a copy of the study itself; the news article does a good job of blaming women for the problem (because if someone has to stay home and watch the kids, it sure as hell better not be a man!), but the study itself could very well be a lot less controversial; I don’t feel that it’s necessarily misogynistic to say that a child will be better off if it has at least one parent at home being a full time parent, at least early on in it’s life.

  9. Hawise
    July 23, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    According to my college-educated, worked full-time, took care of her aging mother and helped run a farm while raising 7 children aunt, we’re lazy. I’ll take selfish for only having one and as long as the media is not apportioning blame for bad eating habits across the board, they can just go stuff their lazy journalistic asses where the sun don’t shine.

  10. preying mantis
    July 23, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    “I’ll see your “shocked-shocked!” and raise you a huge media outcry blame-shaming the selfishness of so many women refusing to be mothers, with nary a word spoken about how much women are expected to give up to do so.”

    If memory serves, there are a few European countries where the right wing’s already there. There seems to be this absolute and unwavering conviction that women simply aren’t smart enough to assess the opportunity costs of having and raising children and then act rationally based on that assessment, so of course it has to be women’s “selfishness” that prompts them to not lie back and think of England. It couldn’t possibly be that society just can’t stop turning children into a sucker’s game, nosirree. Our most precious resource, my ass.

  11. Kyra
    July 23, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    If memory serves, there are a few European countries where the right wing’s already there.

    Yep. Also Japan. They even have special slurs for it—Rabenmutter (raven mother) in Germany for working mothers, and I cannot remember what, precisely, for Japanese women who don’t marry and have children, but it definitely had connotations of selfishness.

    I hate it—societies make having children ridiculously costly and difficult in various ways, and then when women decide it’s not worth the trouble to have children it’s the women who are being unreasonable and selfish and causing problems. If children are so damn precious why doesn’t society act like it, and start footing a few of the bills and helping out some.

    It’s always so easy to value something highly when it’s somebody else paying the price.

  12. Lucy
    July 23, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    It is easy to look up a study like this. Wouldn’t it be better to critique it based on what’s actually wrong with it? Otherwise, it sounds like you are mocking it solely because you don’t like its findings, which is a profoundly anti-scientific approach. There are plenty of things that could be wrong, especially since it is correlational, but deriding it because it doesn’t fit preconceived political or social assumptions makes no sense. Assuming that the study is politically motivated because the findings don’t fit such assumptions is unfair too (without knowledge of the actual ties or previous work of the authors). If working mothers are somehow contributing to obesity, wouldn’t working mothers wish to know how so that they can change their behavior?

    Thinness doesn’t correlate with health while good eating habits do because there are serious diseases that produce thinness as a symptom (or side effect). Wasting is associated with end stages and death. Because thinness can indicate that one is healthy in some circumstances and unhealthy in others, there is no strong correlation. That is no reason to assume that there is no value to being thin or that overweight does not affect health.

    What would it hurt for working mothers to pay more attention to whether their child is getting exercise and chances to play outdoors and engage in active play. A possible confound in this study is the presence or absence of Nintendos and X-Boxes in the home (more affordable in higher income households), urban versus rural or suburban homes, or number of other children in the household. I suggest that you think about these studies instead of just dismissing them in a knee-jerk fashion because you don’t like what they say.

  13. exholt
    July 23, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    I cannot remember what, precisely, for Japanese women who don’t marry and have children, but it definitely had connotations of selfishness.

    I think the term you are looking for is “parasitic singles.” It was coined by some researcher and widely used by the staunch conservatives within the dominant “Liberal Democratic Party”.

  14. July 24, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Feminists are shamed in three ways: slut-shamed, fat-shamed and selfish-shamed.

  15. July 24, 2007 at 12:15 am

    I think Dr. Waine has some mommy issues.

    I ‘ll see that birth control PSA and raise it a book burning rampage starting with A Handmaid’s Tale.

  16. July 24, 2007 at 1:58 am

    This is kind of silly, if you think about it. We have working moms, and we have stay at home moms. Both groups have kids. So there are only two possibilities – either working moms’ kids are more overweight, or the stay at home moms’ kids are more overweight (on average). So somebody with too much grant money and too much time on their hands does a study to determine which is true. Then somebody publishes an article about that study. Now if the study says that working moms have more overweight children, then we have feminist bloggers writing about conspiracy to shame working women. If the study would have came out with the opposite results, then we would see exactly the same reaction on conservatives sites, bemoaning liberal agenda to demean stay at home moms.

  17. July 24, 2007 at 2:06 am

    The real problem here, I think, is framing. Why study on working mothers only and not working fathers as well? That sets up the results and subsequent debate to be about women only.

  18. prairielily
    July 24, 2007 at 2:48 am

    i’ll see your huge media outcry and raise you a PSA on how birth control pills are polluting our water and damaging the environment.

    Well, that’s actually true. But as usual, the obvious and simple solution (cleaning the fucking water properly before putting it back; family-friendly work policies for both parents) is ignored in favour of woman-focused finger-pointing.

  19. Soren
    July 24, 2007 at 3:59 am

    Hmm

    Here in Denmark the numbers for the year 2000 are:
    75% of all women are working.
    the remaining 25% contain people who are not available for work, either because they are “housewives”, or disabled or in some other way not able or willing to work. It does not contain the women who are unemployed and receiving welfare.

    75% of all children between 0 and 6 spend some time in institutions – daycare or nurseries.

    90% of all children between 3 and 6 spend time in daycare.

    This is numbers for 2000. So if working moms is the cause of obesity, then Danish children should be more obese than American. While we do have problems with obesity, it is nowhere near the problems in the US.

    Concerning working moms, studies in Denmark show that unemployed women with no education nurse their children for a shorter time than educated women with careers, at the same they are less stressed than uneducated unemployed women.

    Other studies show that 3-5 year olds with moms working more than 40 hours a week (we have a 37 hour work week in Denmark) are not in any way more stressed than other children.

    Of course it is not all good. The quality of the institutions have a great impact on the welfare of children. Low resource families with children in poor institution means a strengthening of the social inheritance, but if the institutions are good, it can help elevate the children to higher social classes.

  20. orlando
    July 24, 2007 at 4:31 am

    The article did mention in passing that there seems to be no correlation between the number of hours worked by fathers and obesity in their children. When I read that, what I come away with is the conclusion that, in two parent, heterosexual households, the men are clearly still not taking on their share of the workload of raising their children, and the women are continuing to take all the responsibility. Are we at all likely, do you think, to see an article about this study that draws attention to that aspect of the statistics, and suggests that the best way to combat the rise in childhood obesity would be for fathers to do half the parenting work?

    I think nick is right: I want to get a look at the study without the agenda-saturated interpretive language of the journalist, and see what conclusions of our own we can draw.

  21. TinaH
    July 24, 2007 at 8:40 am

    Why study on working mothers only and not working fathers as well?

    Because we don’t have to worry about controlling working fathers; working mothers are the ones that are causing all of this hoopla. They’re selfish, don’tcha know. Working fathers are *normal* but working mothers are an aberration , definitely a violation of the laws of God and Man.

    /snide

  22. Jay
    July 24, 2007 at 9:04 am

    While I completely agree that the tone of this article – and the study itself – it’s “blame-the-working-mom-again”, I don’t think these results hold true in the US. Kids in poorer families in the US are more likely to be obese because high-carbohydrate, high-fat food is cheaper. In addition, these are kids who are more likely to be kept inside after school and on weekends because it’s not safe to be outside. And they’re less likely to be scheduled for soccer, T-ball and dance classes.

    In general, in the US poorer people are heavier. There are lots of reasons: our agricultural policy supports corn more than any other crop; most inner cities lack real markets that stock actual produce; less-educated people don’t have the same understanding of nutrition. And I say this as a fat person myself – morbid obesity does carry significant health risks. There’s no question that the real risks have been falsely attributed to being even a scosch overweight; it’s not life-threatenting to be a size 12. And fat-shaming is overwhelmingly done to women, while men are let off the hook, because yes we do still live in a patriarchy. And conflating fat-shaming with controlling working women just makes me mad.

  23. Mireille
    July 24, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Gee, I guess it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with, let’s see… In some cases, these women are working because the family cannot get by on a single income. Despite the fact that they are working outside the home, they are expected to keep performing all the womanly domestic chores. Having a difficult time finding time to prepare healthful meals, they are forced to rely on fast food or prepared meals. For some reason, crap food is less expensive than healthy food. (The higher-the-income-the fatter-the-children is a red herring. People with their spending are like goldfish in their bowls… They expand to the limits available. Just because a woman makes more doesn’t mean she has more expendable money after the higher mortgage, higher car payments, etc… Not to mention, if she’s making more money, is she also working more hours?) So, guess what kids? You’re eating off the dollar menu at McDonalds! (And what do the kids say? “Oh no, we need healthful food that will help our young bodies grow into lean and healthy adults”? More likely “Yaaayyyyy! French fries from a clown!”) I wonder why they’re getting fat?

  24. July 24, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Here’s the study: Maternal employment and early childhood overweight: findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. For the record, none of the odds ratios gets high enough to be distinguished from chance or noise.

    For those who want to blame the two most common factors (snack food and TV), the authors of the study are clear that those aren’t the reasons:

    Johnson et al.27 found that many preschool children in the US did not meet dietary requirements in the late 1980s, but there was no difference in the quality of their diet by maternal employment status. In school-age children, those whose mothers were employed, were less likely to have ‘less healthy eating’ [that is, children of employed mothers ate a more “healthy” diet] than children whose mothers were full-time homemakers.28 Certain and Kahn29 reported no difference in television viewing among children aged 0–11 or 24–35 months by maternal employment status, but children aged 12–23 months were more likely to watch television daily for at least 2 h, if their mother was not employed.

    It’s not the foods, it’s not the activity, it’s the genetics.

  25. July 24, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Actually, it’s microwaves.

    We didn’t have them when I was a kid, and we were forced to eat stuff like apples and bananas when we got home. We didn’t get pizzas and burritos!

    I really don’t think it’s any more complicated than that… as you say, women have always worked. My mother did.

  26. preying mantis
    July 24, 2007 at 10:52 am

    “Feminists are shamed in three ways: slut-shamed, fat-shamed and selfish-shamed.”

    Aren’t the first two really just part and parcel of the last one, though? It’s usually along the lines of ‘how dare women have sex for themselves?’ and ‘how dare women choose eating and living for their own pleasure over their duty to be pretty for random onlookers?’

    “Now if the study says that working moms have more overweight children, then we have feminist bloggers writing about conspiracy to shame working women.”

    Conspiracy and pandering to a disturbing societal love affair with denigrating women–and mothers in particular–no matter what they do are two different things. You don’t need a bunch of editors actually colluding to make moms think that their kids are doomed to a life of serial-killing, burger-flipping, and weight-gaining if they ever set foot out of the house or lay eyes on a man who isn’t their father in order to get the same effect. All you need are a bunch of people in journalism with the same misogynist inclinations as you find in the general populace and a public that reinforces their slant with more sales, ratings, or web traffic.

  27. SunlessNick
    July 24, 2007 at 11:36 am

    If “less mother around = fatter children,” then children without mothers would be the fattest yet—but even if that proves to be the case, how likely is it that the media turns its shame-and-blame tactics on those selfish fathers who deny their kids a mother, like they do with single moms for other social ills? – Kyra

    No, then it will be mother’s fault for not being there. Even if she’s kept away by law/force/death.

    They even have special slurs for it—Rabenmutter (raven mother) in Germany for working mothers

    Could I just throw in that from a pagan/fantasy perspective, “Raven Mother” sounds so fantastically cool.

  28. Sean Martin
    July 24, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    If I read this right, you’re objecting to a new study that claims women are responsible for because it claims women are responsible? That is, you aren’t arguing the facts presented but, rather, the conclusion reached because it’s not a conclusion you like.

    I’m not saying the conclusion is valid, but I’d be more swayed to your viewpoint if it didn’t appear so “the conclusion casts women in a bad light so we disagree with it, basis for that conclusion be damned” based.

  29. Sean Martin
    July 24, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    correction: “If I read this right, you’re objecting to a new study that claims women are responsible for something just because it claims women are responsible?”

  30. July 24, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    As I see it, moms get shamed even if they stay at home. SAHMs get called lazy and people worry about if their kids are being properly socialized. Just more of the damned if you do, damned if you don’t we face.

  31. July 24, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    This isn’t entirely new — CNN had something on it in May, which I wrote about here.

  32. July 24, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    ugh, so it just got recycled on a slow blame-mothers day….

  33. bmc90
    July 24, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    There is truly no way to win in motherhood these days. The thing that makes me laugh about this is that I could not get the kids in my house to eat the healthy stuff I cook if I put a gun to their heads. I could stay home 24/7 making it. It would not matter. They want the sugared cereal they see in the cartoon ads. Since I’m not their biological mother, I can only refuse to buy it myself, but allowing it in the house is not really my call. I won’t make junk for them, but if they make it for themselves and their dad allows it, I’m not going to fight about it (tried and lost). Funny thing. All the childless stepmoms I know (and I know a lot) – what the kids are allowed to eat is our number one source of dismay but we’ve all had to let it go. Kids got socialized to eat the crap before we came along. All of us work our butts off, and we still find time to CARE about this issue, AND IT’S NOT EVEN OUR OWN KIDS, and yet women still manage to get vilified for this stuff. How about the solution for this is that people with a Y chromosone develop one ounce of interest in what their kids eat so mom does not always have to be the food cop? One cop is not going to ever be able to patrol the beat like two.

  34. July 24, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    “Aren’t the first two really just part and parcel of the last one, though? It’s usually along the lines of ‘how dare women have sex for themselves?’ and ‘how dare women choose eating and living for their own pleasure over their duty to be pretty for random onlookers?’”

    I like to look at them separately.

  35. Sean Martin
    July 24, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Do you have any complaint about the facts (or “facts” if you wish) cited, or just with the conclusion?

    Because it seems to me that you’re objecting to a conclusion just because it is one you don’t like. Your objection seems to be along the lines of “It says women are at fault, and that just can’t be right!”

    I’m not saying the conclusion is right or wrong, but whichever it is I’d think you’d be much more likely to get someone to agree with your view if you were to build your argument. That is, if you were to point out a wrong fact, a bad methodology or what have you. That would offer support that the conclusion was wrong.

    As it is (and I just know I’m gonna get attacked for this) to me your view comes across as unreasoned and reactionary. Which I don’t imagine is what you wanted.

  36. Sean Martin
    July 25, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    .

  37. Sean Martin
    July 25, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    While I’ve visited several times before, yesterday was the first time I’ve ever posted a comment here.

    So I’m curious, what is the usual turn around time for a comment to get through moderation?

    Neither of my comments from yesterday has shown up yet. They show as “awaiting moderation”, and I’m begining to wonder if they’re being help up because of what I said.

    (Which was respectfully phrased but did question the objection to the study’s conclusion.)

  38. July 26, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Sean, that took a little longer than usual to get through moderation.

  39. July 26, 2007 at 11:24 am

    Sean to answer your questions, I take issue with research that seems reactionary. For instance in the 80’s a lot of research was conducted on children in daycare and the emotional problems that they experienced, most of that research has been proven false.

    Bias in research is nothing new, as I pointed out with the unproven assumption that most overweight people are lower-class. That is also apparent in the number of women who work, and if that was the cause…. the obesity rate would seem to correlate, no?

    The number of studies that focus on working mothers rather than working fathers, while ignoring the still significant “second shift”, make for mockery of different study… same bias.

  40. Sean Martin
    July 26, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Sassy –

    Thanks!

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