Research Research and Professional Briefs| Volume 113, ISSUE 11, P1504-1510, November 2013

Download started.


Weight Gain among Men and Women Who Have a Child Enter Their Home


      Parenthood is associated with decreased physical activity and dietary changes. Previously, mothers have been the focus of studies examining the influence of children on parents’ body mass index (BMI), largely ignoring whether parenting affects fathers. This study assessed weight gain in mothers and fathers (by birth or other), using longitudinal repeated-measures models to assess BMI changes over time; parents were compared with nonparents. Data were from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults cohort study and included 2,881 black and white adults, ages 18 to 30 years, without children at baseline (1985-1986), and from four urban locations. At each time point (years 2, 5, and 7), changes in BMI from baseline were analyzed, comparing those who had their children in their household at that time point (parents) and those without children (nonparents). The “child effect” is the mean difference in BMI change in parents compared with nonparents. In fathers, overall, the child effect was not significant (black males: 0.30; P=0.09; white males: 0.03; P=0.77). Among black men, however, interactions between age and parental status were significant (P=0.02). Black men who were aged 18 to 24 years at baseline and became fathers during the next 7 years demonstrated a significant child effect, gaining an average of 0.68 more in BMI than nonfathers (P=0.003). Mothers of both races demonstrated the child effect; for blacks it was 0.65 (P=0.003) and for whites it was 1.12 (P≤0.001). These data reveal that becoming a parent can affect the BMI of some adults and suggest that obesity-prevention interventions for children and adult-focused healthy-lifestyle interventions could have additional impact through a family focus targeting both parent and child outcomes.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • O'Dougherty M.
        • Story M.
        • Stang J.
        Observations of parent-child co-shoppers in supermarkets: Children's involvement in food selections, parental yielding, and refusal strategies.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2006; 38: 183-188
        • Jabs J.
        • Devine C.M.
        • Bisogni C.A.
        • Farrell T.J.
        • Jastran M.
        • Wethington E.
        Trying to find the quickest way: Employed mothers' constructions of time for food.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007; 39: 18-25
        • Laroche H.H.
        • Hofer T.P.
        • Davis M.M.
        Adult fat intake associated with the presence of children in households: Findings from NHANES III.
        J Am Board Fam Med. 2007; 20: 9-15
        • Emmons L.
        • Hayes M.
        Accuracy of 24-hr. recalls of young children.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 1973; 62: 409-415
        • Laroche H.H.
        • Wallace R.B.
        • Snetselaar L.
        • Hillis S.L.
        • Steffen L.M.
        Changes in diet behavior when adults become parents.
        J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012; 112: 832-839
        • Nomaguchi K.M.
        • Bianchi S.M.
        Exercise time: Gender differences in the effects of marriage, parenthood, and employment.
        J Marriage Fam. 2004; 66: 413-430
        • Bellows-Riecken K.H.
        • Rhodes R.E.
        A birth of inactivity? A review of physical activity and parenthood.
        Prev Med. 2008; 46: 99-110
        • Burton N.W.
        • Turrell G.
        Occupation, hours worked, and leisure-time physical activity.
        Prev Med. 2000; 31: 673-681
        • Berge J.M.
        • Larson N.
        • Bauer K.W.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        Are parents of young children practicing healthy nutrition and physical activity behaviors?.
        Pediatrics. 2011; 127: 881-887
        • Umberson D.
        • Liu H.
        • Mirowsky J.
        • Reczek C.
        Parenthood and trajectories of change in body weight over the life course.
        Soc Sci Med. 2011; 73: 1323-1331
        • Gore S.A.
        • Brown D.M.
        • West D.S.
        The role of postpartum weight retention in obesity among women: A review of the evidence.
        Ann Behav Med. 2003; 26: 149-159
        • Harris H.E.
        • Ellison G.T.
        • Clement S.
        Relative importance of heritable characteristics and lifestyle in the development of maternal obesity.
        J Epidemiol Community Health. 1999; 53: 66-74
        • Gunderson E.P.
        • Murtaugh M.A.
        • Lewis C.E.
        • Quesenberry C.P.
        • West D.S.
        • Sidney S.
        Excess gains in weight and waist circumference associated with childbearing: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA).
        Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004; 28: 525-535
        • Gunderson E.P.
        • Quesenberry Jr., C.P.
        • Lewis C.E.
        • et al.
        Development of overweight associated with childbearing depends on smoking habit: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study.
        Obes Res. 2004; 12: 2041-2053
        • Boardley D.J.
        • Sargent R.G.
        • Coker A.L.
        • Hussey J.R.
        • Sharpe P.A.
        The relationship between diet, activity, and other factors, and postpartum weight change by race.
        Obstet Gynecol. 1995; 86: 834-838
        • Weng H.H.
        • Bastian L.A.
        • Taylor Jr., D.H.
        • Moser B.K.
        • Ostbye T.
        Number of children associated with obesity in middle-aged women and men: Results from the health and retirement study.
        J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2004; 13: 85-91
        • Kritz S.
        • Barrett-Connor E.
        • Friedlander N.J.
        Parenthood and lipid and lipoprotein levels in older men.
        Ann Epidemiol. 1997; 7: 275-279
        • Friedman G.D.
        • Cutter G.R.
        • Donahue R.P.
        • et al.
        CARDIA: Study design, recruitment, and some characteristics of the examined subjects.
        J Clin Epidemiol. 1988; 41: 1105-1116
      1. Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA). 2007. Accessed April 2003.

        • Hilner J.E.
        • McDonald A.
        • Van Horn L.
        • et al.
        Quality control of dietary data collection in the CARDIA study.
        Control Clin Trials. 1992; 13: 156-169
        • McDonald A.
        • Van Horn L.
        • Slattery M.
        • et al.
        The CARDIA dietary history: Development, implementation, and evaluation.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 1991; 91: 1104-1112
        • Liu K.
        • Slattery M.
        • Jacobs Jr., D.
        • et al.
        A study of the reliability and comparative validity of the cardia dietary history.
        Ethn Dis. 1994; 4: 15-27
        • Lewis C.E.
        • Smith D.E.
        • Wallace D.D.
        • Williams O.D.
        • Bild D.E.
        • Jacobs Jr., D.R.
        Seven-year trends in body weight and associations with lifestyle and behavioral characteristics in black and white young adults: The CARDIA study.
        Am J Public Health. 1997; 87: 635-642
        • Jacobs Jr., D.
        • Hahn L.
        • Haskell W.
        • Price P.
        • Sidney S.
        Validity and reliability of short physical activity history: Cardia and the Minnesota Heart Health Program.
        J Cardiopulmon Rehabil. 1989; 9: 448-459
        • Hankinson A.L.
        • Daviglus M.L.
        • Bouchard C.
        • et al.
        Maintaining a high physical activity level over 20 years and weight gain.
        JAMA. 2010; 304: 2603-2610
        • Rubin D.B.
        Inference and missing data.
        Biometrika. 1976; 63: 581-592
        • Little R.J.A.
        Modeling the drop-out mechanism in repeated-measures studies.
        J Am Stat Assoc. 1995; 90: 1112-1121
        • Verbeke W.
        • De Bourdeaudhuij I.
        Dietary behaviour of pregnant versus non-pregnant women.
        Appetite. 2007; 48: 78-86
        • The N.S.
        • Gordon-Larsen P.
        Entry into romantic partnership is associated with obesity.
        Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009; 17: 1441-1447
        • Averett S.L.
        • Sikora A.
        • Argys L.M.
        For better or worse: Relationship status and body mass index.
        Econ Hum Biol. 2008; 6: 330-349
        • Sobal J.
        • Hanson K.L.
        • Frongillo E.A.
        Gender, ethnicity, marital status, and body weight in the United States.
        Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009; 17: 2223-2231
        • Eng P.M.
        • Kawachi I.
        • Fitzmaurice G.
        • Rimm E.B.
        Effects of marital transitions on changes in dietary and other health behaviours in US male health professionals.
        J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005; 59: 56-62
        • Lois K.
        • Kumar S.
        • Williams N.
        • Birrell L.
        Can self-reported height and weight be relied upon?.
        Occup Med (Lond). 2011; 61: 590-592
        • Gorber S.
        • Tremblay M.
        • Moher D.
        • Gorber B.
        A comparison of direct vs. self-report measures for assessing height, weight and body mass index: A systematic review.
        Obes Rev. 2007; 8: 307-326
        • Ball K.
        • Crawford D.
        Socioeconomic status and weight change in adults: A review.
        Soc Sci Med. 2005; 60: 1987-2010


      H. H. Laroche is an assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, and an associate investigator, Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation, Iowa City VA Medical Center, Iowa City.


      R. B. Wallace is a professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City.


      L. Snetselaar is a professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City.


      S. L. Hillis is a research professor, Department of Biostatistics and Radiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a senior biostatistician, Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation, Iowa City VA Medical Center, Iowa City.


      X. Cai is an assistant professor, Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY; at the time of the study, she was a research assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City.


      L. M. Steffen is an associate professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis.