The effect of maternal employment on children’s dietary habits, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour

PhD by Publication

Afrin, Sabiha. 2023. The effect of maternal employment on children’s dietary habits, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour. PhD by Publication Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.

The effect of maternal employment on children’s dietary habits, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour

TypePhD by Publication
AuthorsAfrin, Sabiha
1. FirstProf Stuart Biddle
2. SecondDr Sayan Chakrabarty
3. ThirdProf Amy Mullens
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages224
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Maternal employment could affect children in two ways: reducing time on household activities centred on children’s diet, physical activity and sedentary behaviour; and increasing family income which may change food habits, facilitate organized physical activity or affect sedentary behaviour. In higher-income countries, research suggests that maternal employment negatively affects children's diets and physical activity, whereas sedentary behaviour increases. However, little is known about this relationship outside the higher-income countries. Hence, this Ph.D. research aims to examine the patterns of diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour of children (6-18 years) of mothers differing in employment status. One systematic review and three empirical research were conducted. The systematic literature review concluded that employed mother’s children had poorer dietary patterns and increased sedentary behaviour; however, their children were more physically active. Findings also suggest that research related to maternal employment and children’s lifestyle variables are scarce in upper and lower-middle-income countries. Using semi-structured interviews [n=22], Study 2 explored mothers’ experiences, views, influences, and barriers concerning children’s diet and activity patterns. This qualitative study shows how mothers' time for family, income, and the overarching socio-cultural environment influence children's diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour in urban Bangladesh. These findings demonstrate that although employed mothers were aware of their children’s diet, and activity patterns, they often felt compromised regarding their children’s diet and activity behaviours. Using cross-sectional survey data, the Study 3 examined dietary patterns and physical activity, and Study 4 examined sedentary behaviours of children and adolescents. The cross-sectional survey (Study 3) found insufficient fruits, vegetables and protein consumption, low skipping breakfast but daily milk intake among children and adolescents. Low-to-Moderate Intensity Physical Activity (LMPA) was common among children and adolescents. Study 4 highlighted high prevalence of sedentary behaviour during COVID-19 lockdowns, with boys and adolescents being more sedentary than girls and younger children. A child’s sex and age seemed to be important determining factors of diet and activity patterns. Together, the four studies provide new perspectives on diet and activity behaviours of children and adolescents of employed mothers in the context of LMICs (Lower-middle income countries). The qualitative study found that maternal employment influences children's diet and activity patterns, although, cross-sectional studies found no association of children's diet, physical ii activity and sedentary behaviour with maternal employment status, suggesting the need for further quantitative research using a large-scale cross-sectional survey data.

Keywordssedentary behaviour; LMICs; Dietary patterns; physical activity; children and adolescents
Related Output
Has partDietary habits, physical activity, and sedentary behaviour of children of employed mothers: a systematic review
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020321005. Public health nutrition
321099. Nutrition and dietetics not elsewhere classified
389999. Other economics not elsewhere classified
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Byline AffiliationsCentre for Health Research
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