Influence of Mothers' Work Hours on Child Overweight and Obesity: Evidence from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study
The rapid increase in child overweight and obesity in the last four decades worldwide has drawn much research attention to the link between child body mass index and mothers’ labour force participation, which have also increased in the same time period. Previous studies show a consistent association between mothers’ work hours and the body mass index (BMI), independent of family socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. However, limited research has investigated the mechanisms that underpin the association between maternal work and child BMI. Further, much of previous research on this topic is based on cross-sectional data that do not allow researchers to address the issue of causality. The majority of exiting studies are based on US data and only few studies are conducted in other developed economies.
This study aimed to address these limitations, using longitudinal data from the Western Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study and both random-effects and fixed-effects models to provide robust estimates of the independent effect of mothers’ and fathers’ work hours on child body weight from age 2 through to age 10. The study further aimed to assess three potential mechanisms (TV viewing in children, family functioning, and child sleep) that may mediate this effect.