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 Fewer Healthy Habits for Young Mothers

Many women adopt healthier lifestyles when they become pregnant, but a new study suggests that young mothers of small children exercise less than other women their age and donít eat as well.

The report, published April 11 in the journal Pediatrics, drew data from a study called Project EAT on a diverse group of 838 women and 682 men from Minneapolis and St. Paul who were 25 years old on average.

The young mothers in this group consumed more calories ó eating more saturated fat and drinking more sweetened beverages ó and got about an hour less of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week than similar childless women, who were active for three hours a week on average, the researchers found.

The mothers were also more likely to be overweight than other women their age, but researchers said that may have been because many had recently given birth.

The young fathers got five hours a week of physical activity, compared with almost seven for childless men their age. While they exercised less, their diets were not significantly different and they werenít heavier.

"The take-home message is that this is a time when new parents are at high risk for behaviors that could set them on a negative long-term trajectory for their health, and we need to figure out how to support them," said Jerica M. Berge, assistant professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnisotta and the paperís lead author.



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