Parental working hours and the rising prevalence of obesity over time: a cross-cohort analysis

Background

This project aims to investigate how changes in parental employment have affected childhood weight and if/how this effect has been changing over the last five decades. The project is part of the Cross Cohort Research Programme.

Research details

Project title

Parental working hours and the rising prevalence of obesity over time: a cross-cohort analysis

Project lead

Emla Fitzsimons

Themes

Employment, income and wealth

Family and social networks

Physical health

Dates

1 October 2016 – December 2018

Funder

ESRC

Summary

The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity has soared in recent decades. Over the same period, the typical household has seen overall increases in parental working hours. This project aims to investigate how changes in parental employment have affected childhood weight and if/how this effect has been changing over the last five decades.

The project will use data from three birth cohort studies spanning the past five decades: the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS), the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) and the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). It will use a mixture of modelling to estimate whether there is a causal relationship between parental employment and childhood obesity, and to quantify its magnitude.

There are several potential policy implications of this research. One is that programmes to tackle the growing incidence of childhood overweight, such as access to healthier foods and physical exercise, could be better tailored to meet the demands of working parents. A second is that preschool childcare settings, which are used by a growing number of families for extended periods each day, may be an increasingly important target for promoting early healthy behaviours.

Outputs

Outputs from this project will be updated here soon.

Featured scientific publications

Fitzsimons E, Pongiglione B. (2018)
The impact of maternal employment on children's weight: evidence from the UK
CLS working paper 2018/2. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Read the full paper
Fitzsimons E, Pongiglione B. (2017)
Prevalence and trends of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence
CLS working paper 2017/16. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Read the full paper

Researchers

Emla Fitzsimons Professor of Economics and Director of the Millennium Cohort Study

Phone: 020 7331 5129
Email: E.Fitzsimons@ucl.ac.uk

Emla is the Director of the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study following children born at the turn of the new century. Her research is focused on the development of human capital throughout the life course, and in particular how experiences and circumstances in early life and childhood affect causally the acquisition of skills later on.

Ludovica Gambaro Marie Skodowska-Curie Fellow, DIW Berlin

Email: l.gambaro@ucl.ac.uk

Ludovica worked in CLS from 2013 to 2016, mainly on the Millennium Cohort Study and she continues to collaborate with researchers in CLS.

Her main areas of interest are inequalities in child development, early childhood education and care services, residential mobility.

Praveetha Patalay Lecturer in Population Mental Health and Child Development

Phone: 020 7612 6051
Email: praveetha.patalay.11@ucl.ac.uk

Praveetha’s main areas of interest relate to investigating the development and antecedents of mental health (both ill-health and wellbeing) and their consequences through the lifecourse. She is involved in the Mental Health strand of the Cross-Cohort Research Programme and also contributes to mental health research with the Millennium Cohort Study.

Benedetta Pongiglione Research Associate

Benedetta worked as a Research Associate for CLS from 2016-2018. During her time here, she undertook methodological research on the different British cohort studies and investigated the determinants of healthy behaviours and lifestyles, and the intergenerational transmission of social capital and economic status.

Benedetta has a PhD in epidemiology and population health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her research interests include socio-economic inequalities in health, and inequalities in trajectories of healthy ageing. She now works at Bocconi University.

Relevant studies

Contact us

Centre for Longitudinal Studies
UCL Institute of Education

20 Bedford Way
London WC1H 0AL

Email: clsfeedback@ucl.ac.uk