A new study of more than 4500 Australian preschoolers found children of part-time mums ate less junk food, watched less TV and were less likely to be overweight.
The results have sparked renewed calls for family-friendly work policies to promote healthy lifestyles for kids.
Researchers from the University of New England in NSW believe the unexpected finding may be driven by part-time mums being more conscientious on the days they are at home to care for their children.
This could explain why they restrict TV viewing and unhealthy snacks more than other mums, while ensuring their kids are physically active.
“It wasn’t what we expected at all,” said co-author Jan Nicholson, principal research fellow at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne.
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“When mothers work part-time, there’s obviously something about the way the house is run and the way parents are looking after their children that is protective,” Professor Nicholson said.
The study, to be published in the international journal Social Sciences & Medicine next month, also shows full-time working mums tend to have less healthy children.