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Who Needs More Exercise? You Do Mom and Dad

Who Needs More Exercise? You Do Mom and Dad

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?

Read more: Babies, Eating for Health, Family, Fitness, Parenting at the Crossroads, Women's Health, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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12:10AM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

Thanks for the article.

1:25AM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

Thanks for the article.

5:56PM PDT on Mar 14, 2012

Wow, I'm glad that advice from medical practitioners has finally eradicated child neglect and abuse. That's why these idiots think there's time for this nonsense, right?

It's a stupid study. Of course they eat more and "exercise" less - they're busy. Just because they "exercise" less, it doesn't actually mean they are less active. They are caring for children! You can't do that sat on your arse - well, unless you've worn yourself out doing meaningless exercise and have starved yourself to the point where you have no energy to actually parent your children any more.

12:06PM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

Thank you Eric.

6:48PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Yes, we all need our daily exercises.

4:46PM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Thanks, hope people listen to the advice.

5:56AM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

good read

9:53PM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

great to know

10:27AM PDT on Apr 12, 2011

I just heard about this, this morning and the first thing that comes to my mind is parents nor children need to have the junk food in the house. It is not good for anyone and responsible parents should be more active doing things with their children, like going to the park, instead of just plopping down on the sofa in front of the TV or video games. This would solve the problem of overweight parents and children. It's actually that simple. Common sense folks.

2:13PM PDT on Apr 11, 2011

I've heard that some parents like to eat all the meals their children leave on their plates. You know, in an automatical way - like "it will be easier to clean the dishes if I'm going to finish this".

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