Non-linear relationship between maternal work hours and child body weight: Evidence from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study

Jianghong LI*, Plamen AKALIYSKI, Jakob SCHÄFER, Garth KENDALL, Wendy H. ODDY, Fiona STANLEY, Lyndall STRAZDINS

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Using longitudinal data from the Western Australia Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study and both random-effects and fixed-effects models, this study examined the connection between maternal work hours and child overweight or obesity. Following children in two-parent families from early childhood to early adolescence, multivariate analyses revealed a non-linear and developmentally dynamic relationship. Among preschool children (ages 2 to 5), we found lower likelihood of child overweight and obesity when mothers worked 24 h or less per week, compared to when mothers worked 35 or more hours. This effect was stronger in low-to-medium income families. For older children (ages 8 to 14), compared to working 35–40 h a week, working shorter hours (1–24, 25–34) or longer hours (41 or more) was both associated with increases in child overweight and obesity. These non-linear effects were more pronounced in low-to-medium income families, particularly when fathers also worked long hours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date26 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

We thank Raine Study participants and their families for ongoing participation in the study; the Raine Study Team for co-ordination of the study and for the collection of the data presented here; the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia for their contribution to funding for the Raine study over the last 25 years; and the Telethon Kids Institute for their long term support. We acknowledge the University of Western Australia (UWA), the Raine Medical Research Foundation, the UWA Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the Women’s and Infant’s Research Foundation (KEMH), Curtin University and Edith Cowan University for providing funding for the Core Management of the Raine Study. Lyndall Strazdins is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT110100686, and this paper was part of a visiting fellowship supported by WZB Berlin Social Science Center (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Child BMI
  • Family income
  • Fathers’ work hours
  • Maternal work hours
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • The Raine Study


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