185655 Maternal employment instability and childhood overweight: A longitudinal study

Monday, October 27, 2008: 11:00 AM

Leslie Stewart, BA , Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Eunice Rodriguez, DrPH , Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Yujia Liu, MA , Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
BACKGROUND: Many factors, including number of mother's work hours, are associated with childhood overweight as defined by body mass index (BMI). One potential cause that has not been explored is maternal employment instability. This study examined whether children whose mothers experienced unemployment between 2000 and 2002 were more likely to have higher BMIs in 2004 than those children whose mothers remained employed, after controlling for baseline BMI. The effects of unemployment benefits, welfare, and number of hours worked (for those stably employed) were also explored. METHODS: Multiple regression models were used to analyze data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. In all 3,633 children, aged 2 -20, were included in the analyses. RESULTS: As expected, low family income and maternal education were associated with higher child BMI. Preliminary analysis shows that, as compared to children of mothers who were employed full-time and did not receive welfare, two groups of children were significantly more likely to have higher BMIs: children of mothers who experienced unemployment and received welfare but no unemployment benefits and children of mothers who worked overtime and received welfare. Yet children of mothers who experienced unemployment and did receive unemployment benefits were not more likely to have higher BMIs. CONCLUSION: These results show that aspects of maternal employment other than number of work hours are associated with child BMI, including whether welfare or benefits are received. This has implications for policies that relate to welfare and benefits for mothers who lose their jobs or are working overtime.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify four factors that are associated with higher rates of childhood overweight. 2. Articulate the relationship between employment instability and child BMI. 3. Describe how the knowledge that certain groups of children may be more vulnerable to being overweight based on their motherís employment status and benefits could influence welfare and unemployment benefit policies.

Keywords: Obesity, Workforce

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I received a grant to do the research for this abstract and am currently enrolled in an M.D. program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.