More "Mommy War" Fodder: Working is Good for You

Cathy Arnst

A new study seems to score one for working mothers. A team of British researchers who have been tracking since birth some 1,100 women born in 1946 found that, by age 54, the working, married mothers were in better health and less likely to be obese than the full-time homemakers.

Fewer than one in four women (23%) in stable relationships who had raised children and held outside jobs for many years were obese at age 53, compared to 38% of women who were described as long-term married homemakers.

The study appears to be well-executed, but its authors acknowledge that it raises plenty of questions. Researcher Anne McMunn, PhD, an epidemiologist at University Collge London, said the findings could not be explained by the women's health early in life, and early-life health did not appear to influence whether the women became employees, wives, and mothers.

"This research doesn't address why working moms tend to be healthier," McMunn says. "And we certainly aren't saying that working moms aren't stressed. But it may be that being able to participate fully in society, both in and outside the home, is important for health."

The study is in the Journal of Epidemiology and Clinical Health, and it's already stirring up some comment in the blogosphere, natch. I'm going to stay mum on this one, but would like to hear what others think.