UCL News


Mothers who work 'enjoy better health'

15 May 2006

According to research published today, by the time superwomen reach middle age they are measurably healthier than their stay-at-home sisters.

The study, from UCL, also found that superwomen were the least likely to be obese in their 50s than long-term home-makers, unmarried or childless women.

The research is based on a study of more than 1,000 British women born in March 1946 who were recruited by the Medical Research Council.

At the ages of 26 and 54 they filled in detailed questionnaires and every decade more information was collected on their job history, marital status and whether they had children. Their height and weight were also measured at regular intervals. …

The study, in the 'Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health', says that the women "who had been home-makers for all or most of their lives" and who had not held down a job, were the most likely to say they had poor health, followed by single mothers and childless women.

In addition, 38 per cent of the long-term home-makers were found to be obese at the age of 54 compared with only 26 per cent of the women who were wives, employees and mothers. …

Dr Anne McMunn [UCL Epidemiology & Public Health], who led the study, has three children - aged six, four and one - and works part time. She said she was interested from her own life to see whether or not there were differences in health among different lifestyles.

"The difference in health may have something to do with women being more socially engaged and have more part in society as a whole if they are at work rather than at home," said Dr McMunn, a senior research fellow in medical sociology. …

Celia Hall, 'The Daily Telegraph'