There exist numerous jokes and jabs at the expense of new parents about “baby weight” and an ever-declining level of physical fitness après baby. This goes for the mother, as well as the father. I can attest that I tacked on a few pounds of “sympathy weight” from my wife’s pregnancy that remained well into his toddler years. Generally speaking, many new parents, when overwhelmed with the responsibility of taking care of a newborn, tend to overlook and neglect their own physical wellbeing. This most often comes in the form of the abandoned exercise regime.
A new report from the Journal Pediatrics titled, Are Parents of Young Children Practicing Healthy Nutrition and Physical Activity Behaviors? reveals that, in fact, many parents are not. The analysis, performed at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School, of the eating and exercise habits of more than 1,500 young adults (average age was 25) found moms and dads with kids 5 and younger exercised less than similar people without kids (not exactly a surprise there). Mothers reported a greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, total energy, and percent saturated fat compared with women without children, and both mothers and fathers had lower amounts of physical activity compared with non-parents. Overall, the moms in the study consumed an average of 2,360 calories compared with 1,992 calories for the similar women without kids, and in general, moms and dads alike got about one-third less exercise than their unencumbered counterparts. The University of Minnesota researchers conclude that “parenthood may be contributing to poorer dietary intake and higher BMI” in young moms, and less than ideal physical activity in both parents.
The researchers implore pediatricians to urge new parents to watch their weight, eat a more nutritionally balanced diet, and carve out time for exercise. The thinking is that bad habits like eating junk food and not exercising can become habitual (as well as problematic overtime) and provide a negative influence to young children who watch their parents downing liters Mountain Dew and day napping on the couch.
What have you done to counteract the post-child spread and inertia?