Study Reveals: Pregnancy Makes You Fat

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On the heels of the the trans-fat travesty , a new public health menace rears its porcine head. In a word, kids:

Adults living with young children eat significantly more fat than grown-ups with no kids at home, a new study shows.

Adults with kids consumed nearly 5 more grams of fat and 1.7 more grams of saturated fat every day, the equivalent of an individual pepperoni pizza a week, Dr. Helena Laroche of the University of Iowa in Iowa City and her colleagues found. Adults living with children younger than 17 also ate more salty snacks, cheese, beef, ice cream, cakes and cookies, pizza, and processed meats like bacon.

Here are a few excruciatingly obvious reasons why this would be true: Kids are stressful and annoying enough to send the entire pro-ana movement headed for a vat of corn syrup; eating well takes more time than frazzled parents are likely to have; parents buy empty calories for their carb-happy kids and then engorge themselves on the same stuff. Or this:

"These findings suggest that food advertising aimed at children may influence not only the child's diet but also indirectly affect parents' diets," they note in their report.

The report comes out in February; expect to see a push to limit kid-friendly food advertising, lest overfed parents be forced to cave to their kids' demands at the supermarket and then cave to their own cravings at home.

Via To the People.

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  1. “Think of the parents!”

    Not that I care. I just wanted to be the first to say it. ­čśë

  2. Most men gain weight while their wives are pregnant. I guess kid-friendly advertising is so powerful, it controls fathers before their kids are even born.

  3. It’s amazing how I have been able to make my kid eat healthy and do the same myself. I guess the brain-wave manipulation of those ads just don’t work on my already damaged gray matter.

  4. eating well takes more time than frazzled parents are likely to have

    Not to overgeneralize from my own experience or anything, but I’ll bet that’s roughly 90% of the reason right there.

  5. Your hypothesis:

    “parents buy empty calories for their carb-happy kids and then engorge themselves on the same stuff.”

    and their hypothesis

    “These findings suggest that food advertising aimed at children may influence not only the child’s diet but also indirectly affect parents’ diets,”

    Look the same to me. Kids see advertisement for junk food x on TV, clamor for it, their parents buy it and ‘engorge’ themselves on the same things.

    This may or may not justify regulating ads targetig kids but it doesn’t seem like an outlandish hypothesis to me.

  6. Male marmosets also gain weight when their mates are pregnant. (http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1483903)

    Perhaps they too are unusually susceptible to Madison Avenue.

  7. She and her colleagues analyzed data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative sample that included 6,660 men and women aged 17 to 65.

    People with kids tend to be young and relatively healthy, and thus less concerned about restricting their diet. (And have less need to.) I’d suggest a study that compared parents to parent-aged adults. Even grandparents raising kids tend to be in their forties/early fifties, not sixties. (Yes, there are exceptions.)

    Adults with children may also be more likely to keep these foods around the house because they think kids like them. (Emphasis added.)

    [sarcasm]When we all really know that, absent advertising, kids would rather eat tofu, granola, and brussels sprouts.[/sarcasm]

    Adults with kids consumed nearly 5 more grams of fat and 1.7 more grams of saturated fat every day, the equivalent of an individual pepperoni pizza a week,

    HOLY COW! A WHOLE SIX-INCH PIZZA A WEEK! WHAT A DISASTER!

    “We need to approach nutrition as good for the whole family,” Laroche told Reuters Health. “Everybody should be eating the same nutritious food.”

    Everyone should be eating whatever they want. MYOB.

  8. Let’s just cut to the chase and infantilize the entire adult population.

  9. I can definitively state that the nanny staters have it all wrong. A quick ad-hoc study of my neighborhood shows the real story.

    Eating at home, driving SUVs or minivans and being married tend to make people fat. On the other hand, dining out or picking up Chinese, driving a sports car and being single keeps one more slender. Notice that being a parent did not figure into my conclusive study.

  10. The solution is obvious- ban children. They contribute nothing to the economy, make people fat, annoy me when I’m eating at a nice place, and their taste in entertainment is just awful.

  11. As always….. Fat is flavor!!!!!!!

  12. So, its not that the parents can’t say no to the kids who want the crappy food, it’s the fact that the parents can’t say no to the food themselves. Seems like that’s about right.

  13. Adults living with young children eat significantly more fat

    Is there fat in pith?
    Because I’d like to make a pithy retort but I’m too busy eating my medium-rare cheeseburgers, alone, wife-less, childless, ever-so-selfishly and indulgently contributing nothing to the tax base.

    I wholeheartedly recommend sliced pickled jalapenos on top. This is what separates me from the Norwegians. Salut!

  14. What about the fact that parents are spending less time obsessing about their weight than teenage girls? I think that failure to read “Seventeen” willcause you to gain 10-15 pounds, if only because you only puke when you’re drunk or sick.

  15. childless
    I believe the term of art is “child-free”.

  16. I figure it’s because you finish their leftovers all the time. Although there’s a point where you don’t want to eat lukewarm Macaroni n’ Cheeze for the 28th time in a week.

  17. I have yet to finish my boy’s leftovers. A 9 month old’s cuisine ain’t very appetizing.

    Although, I do have to say that the pulverized peas are surprisingly good.

  18. Kids are stressful

    That’s why they make wine.

    High, you know your kids have gotten big when you stop wiping their snotty noses with your bare fingers because the tissues are in the bathroom and you’re closer to the kitchen sink than you are the tissues.

  19. TWC,
    Yes, as a father of three young children I can easily chart my increased wine consumption relative to children in diapers.

  20. Ha Ha! You think your young kids are annoying and stressful now. Wait until they get their drivers licences!!

  21. i blame the easy-bake oven. my 6 yr old is very proud to make me brownies and chocolate chip cookies seven times a day.

  22. Parents may be consuming more calories, but wouldn’t they burn more calories as they perform their day-to-day parental duties?

  23. d for s of course

  24. I think that we can file this study with the one that found out that NFL players are real big guys.

  25. Oh, good grief. For one thing, parents have more fat around because their kids bloody well need it. My pediatrician threatened me if I made the boys drink skim milk. 2% was her absolute cutoff, and that’s because it’s not all that much different from whole milk. Also, I just don’t friggin’ care what I look like in a bikini anymore, and I’d rather eat actually food with my sons than pick at a salad. Finally, does that slight increase in fat intake actually make a difference in health? I remember from earlier this week at Ezra Klein’s site, a discussion of the fact that extra weight may not be all that bad for you, and is actually beneficial in older people. (We’re not talking morbid obesity here, but 30 or so extra pounds.)

    I’m going to go make myself some French toast, with heavy cream, eggs, and cinnamon-swirl brioche.

  26. I second Karen’s comment about developing kids NEEDING more fat in their diets than do adults. And what the hell is wrong with people who supposedly care about public health, yet will try to make a woman feel bad because after she’s had one or two children she no longer has the body of a childless 25-year-old?

    I just don’t friggin’ care what I look like in a bikini anymore

    I guarantee: some professional nanny seriously considers this a problem. What is wrong with your self-esteem? Have you no self-respect? Next you’ll be telling me you see no reason to keep your hair washed and brushed. Go to the bathroom and stick your finger down your throat, goddammit.

  27. Jennifer, the really sad thing is that there are more than a few people who really do think I have a problem because I’m content as a size 12 instead of a 6. The last time I was a size 6, of course, I was about 13. Carter was president, and I hadn’t completed puberty. You can read this sort of thing on some conservative Christian marriage advice websites, to which I refuse to link, about how that men cheat or use porn or whatever because their wives get fat after the kids are born. Ugh.

  28. Oh, and they do often talk like not starving oneself is exactly like not bathing. See, if you don’t want to be thin, you’re just dirty. I read somewhere that we have an instinct to avoid contamination, from which the emotion of disgust stems. The problem is that disgust gets broadened from the necessary avoidance of contagion into lots of other quite unnecessary reactions.

  29. Well, I’m a childless size one so I can say this without being accused of trying to make excuses for my fat lazy self: this thin-at-all-costs mantra is BULLSHIT. Especially the idea that a middle-aged mother should have the same body she had at nineteen. And fuck this idea that psychological health means being a narcissist and obsessing over your appearance every second of the day. Ooooh–my waist is an inch bigger than it was before the baby! Must exercise! Must exercise! Oooooh–I have a line on my face! Must moisturize! Must moisturize! Maybe I could get surgery? Fuck my personality; I must ignore my friends and focus on my appearance. HOLY SHIT!! I look older than I did 15 years ago! This can’t be normal. This can’t be healthy. What the fuck is wrong with me?

  30. Jennifer, I so totally agree. I mean, honestly, after someone is out of college, shouldn’t he or she have something better to think about than appearance? I mean, of course, beyond being clean and physically active?

    (FWIW: before kids, I was an effortlessly-thin size 8, once mistaken for the actress Blair Brown in the Dallas airport. I still treasure that memory. Hey, I’m not completely free of narcissism.) Even when I was fashionably thin, I didn’t watch what I ate. I was active, though, and benefited from extremely favorable genes. It had exactly zero moral content, however.

    Finally, do men really like the Kate Moss type? Most of my male friends, and my husband, recoil. One guy said that if he found himself attracted to Kate Moss, he’d check into rehab for homosexual pedophiles, since in his mind she looked like about a fifth-grade boy. Also, there’s the Darwinian fear of disease, and most current supermodels look to him like sick famine victims. Still, maybe it’s just selection bias among my friends. Any other opinions?

  31. There is nothing more unattractive than someone who is intentionally starving themselves. Some people are naturally thin, but they don’t look anorexic to me. Researchers have found that symmetry is what is attractive. Both Twiggie and Marilyn Monroe were symmetrical.
    I’m on board with the whole gist of the article. I often find myself at Wendy’s with the kid and I do indulge myself when I am there. Prior to fatherhood I wouldn’t have been caught dead in a joint like that.
    Still, it’s not like my kid ever held a gun to my head and forced me to eat all my fries. I’ve actually lost huge amounts of weight while being a parent. My gaining it all back had little to do with her either

  32. do men really like the Kate Moss type

    None of the men that I know do. Most models look scary. Visible ribs are not attractive; neither are knees that are thicker than your thighs. I’m thin, but not bony; it’s just genetics, I guess.

    But if the government’s health nannies can convince you to obsessively focus on your appearance, you’ll be too goddamned busy to worry about what the hell the government is up to.

  33. According to the article:

    Households with children younger than 17 didn’t consume more calories, but they did eat more fat.

    It’s the calories, stupid. The headline could have been:

    1. Households without children consume more sugar.

    or

    2. Having children has absolutely no affect on total calories consumed.

  34. The calories bit coincides exactly with my study/survey as well. The one additional part I found was that in households with children older than 16, the children acquired most of their calories outside the home.

    I also found that children used substantially more calories as they grew larger leaving fewer calories for the parents. This is undoubtedly due to the ever increasing portion of household income being absorbed by those children in other areas like those funny smelling hand rolled cigarettes.

  35. Karen and Jennifer. I would have loved to have preserved my racing cyclist/rower/rugby player/football player figure into my declining years.

    Alas it was not so so.

  36. Kate’s Moss.

  37. Finally, do men really like the Kate Moss type?

    yes indeedy do.

  38. do men really like the Kate Moss type

    Not Kate Moss in the Calvin Klein ads, but I like scrawny chicks well enough, sure dated enough of them.

    But, real chicks are preferable to all others. Don’t like a plastic girl with Mattell stamped on her ass.

  39. Kate Moss is right out for me. If she ain’t got at least Angelina Jolie’s meat on her bones, she can just cruise on by. I am not saying that a size 20 is my ideal mind you, but neither is a size 4.

  40. You can read this sort of thing on some conservative Christian marriage advice websites, to which I refuse to link, about how that men cheat or use porn or whatever because their wives get fat after the kids are born.

    The Bible clearly says “Thou shalt not commit adultery if thine wife’s waist measurement be-eth within two inches of what it was on thine wedding day. Otherwise, it counteth not.”

    However, wives are forbidden to stray no matter how bald and paunchy the man of the house becomes.

  41. You can read this sort of thing on some conservative Christian marriage advice websites, to which I refuse to link, about how that men cheat or use porn or whatever because their wives get fat after the kids are born. Ugh.

    No, men cheat because our wives all but stop having sex with us after motherhood is fulfilled. Go figure.

    Why do parents gain weight? Gee, maybe because:

    A. We are having kids later and thus are closer to middle age spread; and
    B. Raising kids is exhausting and time-consuming. Who has time to exercise after working all day and tucking the youngins’ in? Not me.

    The study author’s are obviously childless or well nannied.

    Finally, do men really like the Kate Moss type?

    No. The Claudia Black type. Yum.

  42. Perhaps parents are more likely to make sure to eat 3 squares a day because you can’t skip dinner when your kids need to eat – but a bachelor can go a few days on coffee and cigarettes without hearing complaints from anyone else.

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