The Role of Time Use Behaviors in the Risk of Obesity among Low-Income Mothers

Margaret Gough, Adam M. Lippert, Molly A. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: Childrearing responsibilities create additional demands on women's time and effort, especially in low-income families. We explore whether childrearing demands and differences in time use increase the risk of overweight and obesity for women in different income brackets. Methods: We use data for women ages 18–55 years from the 2006–2008 and 2014–2015 American Time Use Surveys (N = 17,914). We predict whether women engage in particular activities using logistic regression and, among those who do particular activities, we predict the minutes spent in various activities using ordinary least squares models. We also predict women's risk of overweight or obesity using logistic regression. All models examine conditional relationships between income level and motherhood status. Results: Replicating prior research, we find a greater risk of overweight and obesity for mothers with low (odds ratio, 1.66; p <.001) and subpoverty (odds ratio, 1.93; p <.001) incomes compared with mothers with moderate/upper incomes and all child-free women. Motherhood and income status jointly predict women's time use, but including these time use behaviors in models of overweight and obesity does not attenuate the significantly higher risks for mothers with low and subpoverty incomes. Conclusions: Mothers experiencing economic hardship are at greater risk of overweight and obesity relative to other women. Additional research is warranted, however, because differences in time use do not explain this important health disparity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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