Friday, May 18, 2007

Are Working Fathers To Blame For Childhood Obesity?

A headline you will never see on television. But you do see the same thing with "mothers" replaced for "fathers". NTodd alerted me to today's version:

CHETRY: This just another case of blame mom for everything? Could working mothers be responsible for kids getting fatter? Well, it's a controversial theory that Doctor Sanjay Gupta takes a look at in today's "Fit Nation" report.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, good morning, Kiran. I was a little -- talk about blaming women. I have to be a little careful here.

Women have been blamed for everything going back to the Garden of Eden for sure. But we're taking a look at some -- some people believe that working mothers may actually be contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. We decided to take a look at this controversial theory.


SINGER: Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin' --

GUPTA (voice over): Working 9 to 5 was a movie and a mantra in the 1980s, as American women entered the workforce en masse. That's about the same time that American kids started packing on the pounds.

TERRY MASON, CHICAGO PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We saw that started to happen and you could track childhood obesity and there was a direct correlation.

GUPTA: So, did working women lead to chubbier children? Well, 16 percent of children six and older are overweight. That is triple the number from 1980.

LEW FULLER, OBESITY SOCIETY: We don't have the traditional approach of a woman being at home, cooking dinner, taking care of the kids, getting the kids outside and getting the kids exercise.

GUPTA: Families now eat out an average of four times a week, a big jump from 30 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being a working mom, I do find myself taking my children out to McDonald's and fast food a lot because when I get back after the commute, I'm too tired to fix those meals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that blaming women for childhood obesity is absolutely ridiculous.

GUPTA: Others say obesity may be caused by a variety of factors.

My pet theory is that childhood obesity is caused by Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Now you can go out and say "some people" say that Gupta causes fat kids. As there is no research evidence on this question my guess is as good as his. And it has the added advantage of not slamming poor women who sometimes work two jobs to put food on the table.

This would be a good time to promote my piece on how research into gender roles is popularized in the media.
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