Study found family meals suffered as work pressures increased.
The more work-related stress parents experience, the more likely their children are to eat unhealthy meals, a new study shows.
"Who would have thought that a child's nutrition is affected by [parents] worrying about their jobs?" said Katherine Bauer, a researcher and assistant professor of public health at Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education. Bauer conducted the research while at the University of Minnesota.
The research is published in the current issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.
Bauer and her colleagues used data from a study of more than 3,700 parents of teens living in a Midwestern metropolitan area. Only 64 percent of fathers and 46 percent of mothers were employed full time.
Those mothers employed full time had fewer meals as a family, served more fast-food meals and encouraged their teens to eat healthy less often, the researchers found. They had lower fruit and vegetable intake and spent less time on food preparation than moms who worked part time or who were not employed.
The fathers' only difference by employment status was that full-time workers had fewer hours of food preparation than those who worked part time or were not employed.
Mothers spent more hours on food preparation than fathers, no matter their employment status, Bauer said.
Parents with high stress levels were more likely to have fast food for family meals, less likely to encourage their children to eat healthy and more likely to eat fewer servings of fruits and vegetables a day.