The impact of maternal occupation and pre-pregnancy weight status on childhood obesity: A comparative analysis of the United States and the United Kingdom

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2013-01-01
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Schuring, Jessica
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Wallace Huffman
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

History
The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Previous studies have shown that maternal employment during childhood increases a child's probability of becoming overweight and that the probability increases with the mother's weekly working hours. Current maternal weight status has also been shown to impact a child's weight status. This paper seeks to expand on these relationships by examining the effects of maternal occupation choice and pre-pregnancy weight status on childhood obesity. The analysis will be a comparative one between the United States (U.S.) and the United Kingdom (U.K.). Matched mother-child data from the 2008 surveys of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in the U.S. and of the Millennium Cohort Study in the U.K are used. Probit models are specified on the likelihood of a child being obese given certain child, maternal and household characteristics, including maternal occupation and pre-pregnancy weight status. Finally, an additional model is analyzed that replaces maternal occupations with descriptive attributes of the mother's job, from the Occupational Information Network (O*Net).

The results suggest a similar impact of maternal pre-pregnancy weight status on childhood obesity between the two regions, with a mother being overweight or obese before pregnancy increasing her child's risk of obesity later in childhood. The effect is larger in the U.S. but highly significant for both. The impact of maternal occupation on childhood obesity, however, differs between the two regions. In the U.S. several occupation categories are shown to be significant in actually decreasing a child's risk of obesity, relative to if the mother was not employed, and all of the occupation categories are jointly significant. In the U.K. maternal occupations are neither individually nor jointly significant in impacting the risk of a child being obese. These results are equally as evident in the model using the O*Net attributes. Again, in the U.S. many of the O*Net attributes have explanatory power on the child's risk of obesity and these results are robust to several different tests of significance. In the U.K., however, the O*Net attributes have no significant impact on child obesity risk, suggesting that employment conditions in the U.K., specifically possibly through national policies, may be more family-friendly.

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Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2013