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To examine associations between maternal employment and time spent engaging in nutrition-related behaviours among mothers and children using a nationally representative sample of households in West and East Germany.
A cross-sectional analysis was performed using time-use data for a sample of mother–child dyads. Associations between maternal employment and time spent in nutrition-related activities such as eating at home, eating away from home and food preparation were estimated using a double-hurdle model.
German Time Budget Survey 2001/02.
The overall sample included 1071 households with a child between 10 and 17 years of age. The time-use data were collected for a 3 d period of observation (two weekdays and one weekend day).
Maternal employment was associated with the time children spent on nutrition-related behaviours. In households with employed mothers, children spent more time eating alone at home and less time eating meals with their mothers. Moreover, employed mothers spent less time on meal preparation compared with non-employed mothers. There were regional differences in time spent on nutrition-related behaviours, such that East German children were more likely to eat at home alone than West German children.
Maternal employment was associated with less time spent eating with children and preparing food, which may be related to the increasing childhood obesity rates in Germany. Future national surveys that collect both time-use data and health outcomes could yield further insight into mechanisms by which maternal time use might be associated with health outcomes among children.
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