Effects of parents' employment status on changes in body mass index and percent body fat in adolescent girls

Sunmin Lee, Deborah Rohm Young, Charlotte A. Pratt, Jared B. Jobe, Soo Eun Chae, Robert G. McMurray, Carolyn C. Johnson, Scott B. Going, John P. Elder, June Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Parents' employment status is frequently cited as a possible predictor of child weight status. Despite the importance of the topic, only a few studies have been conducted. No longitudinal studies have been conducted in the United States. A cohort of 1201 girls from the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls was used. Height, weight, and percent body fat (PBF) were measured at the 6th and 8th grades. Parents' employment status (measured at 6th grade) was categorized into working full time (reference), part time, unemployed, working or staying at home, and don't know. Mixed-model regression was used to reflect the hierarchical design of our study and adjusted for age, race, parents' education level, free or reduced-price school lunch status, and living arrangement. Girls whose mothers worked part time or stayed at home had a decreased risk of excess weight gain [relative risk (RR) = 0.94, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.88, 1.00; RR = 0.89, 95% CI 0.79, 1.00, respectively] compared to girls whose mothers worked full time. Girls whose fathers were unemployed had a moderately increased risk of excess weight gain (RR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.00, 1.26) compared to girls whose fathers worked full time. Having an unemployed mother or part-time or stay-at-home father was not associated with excess weight gain. Parents' employment status was not associated with excess PBF gain. Our findings suggest that the availability of the mother has a greater influence on the weight of the daughter than the availability of the father. There is a need for a better understanding of how parents' employment status influences excess weight gain in adolescent girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-532
Number of pages7
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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