Maternal employment and childhood overweight in low- and middle-income countries

Vanessa M. Oddo, Noel T. Mueller, Keshia M. Pollack, Pamela J. Surkan, Sara N. Bleich, Jessica C. Jones-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the association between maternal employment and childhood overweight in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Design/Setting We utilized cross-sectional data from forty-five Demographic and Health Surveys from 2010 to 2016 (n 268 763). Mothers were categorized as formally employed, informally employed or non-employed. We used country-specific logistic regression models to investigate the association between maternal employment and childhood overweight (BMI Z-score>2) and assessed heterogeneity in the association by maternal education with the inclusion of an interaction term. We used meta-analysis to pool the associations across countries. Sensitivity analyses included modelling BMI Z-score and normal weight (weight-for-age Z-score≥-2 to <2) as outcomes. Subjects: Participants included children 0-5 years old and their mothers (aged 18-49 years). Results: In most countries, neither formal nor informal employment was associated with childhood overweight. However, children of employed mothers, compared with children of non-employed mothers, had higher BMI Z-score and higher odds of normal weight. In countries where the association varied by education, children of formally employed women with high education, compared with children of non-employed women with high education, had higher odds of overweight (pooled OR=1·2; 95 % CI 1·0, 1·4). Conclusions: We find no clear association between employment and child overweight. However, maternal employment is associated with a modestly higher BMI Z-score and normal weight, suggesting that employment is currently associated with beneficial effects on children's weight status in most LMIC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2523-2536
Number of pages14
JournalPublic health nutrition
Volume20
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • BMI Z-score
  • Childhood overweight
  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Maternal employment
  • Nutrition transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this