Can a Decrease in Housework Cause Weight Gain?

New research states that a decrease in household chores may be the reason women's average weight has increased since the '60s

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Weight Gain: Can a Decrease in Housework Be the Cause?

Women spend eight fewer hours a week on housework than previous generations

Devoting less time to housework than earlier generations may be the reason women today are heavier than before

A pretty controversial study has determined that one of the main reasons women weigh much more on average than they did just a couple of decades ago is that women are — gulp! — doing much less housework than women in previous generations did.

According to these researchers, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Beav’s mom was the model for motherhood, women apparently spent an average of a little more than 4,200 calories a week on housework: doing the dishes, mopping, shopping, washing, ironing, etc.

In more recent times, however, the housework situation has changed quite dramatically. First, a great many more women now work out of the home than in the past. As well, some men actually help out with housework, although it’s not generally as much as they should be helping, as my wife told me recently.

Anyway, for both those reasons, women spend less time on housework. But probably the most important reason for less effort involved in housework can be attributed to the advent of all those labour-saving devices that most of us now own.

Women Spend Less Time on Housework

All in all, these researchers reported that women now spend roughly eight fewer hours a week on housework than previous generations did. Thus, modern women expend roughly 2,600 calories a week on housework, which is 1,600 fewer calories a week than in the past.

But here’s the twist: Most women have replaced those eight hours of effort with eight hours of leisure, mostly watching TV. All these reasons — less time spent on work, more help with the work and more time spent sitting — explain why women have gained so much weight on average since the ’60s, say the researchers.

Men Also Gaining Weight

But it’s quite clear that men have also become much more weighty since the 1960s. What’s happened to them? Same thing, say these researchers, only it’s got nothing to do with cutting down on housework (how do you cut down on zero?).

Rather, men too are not as active as they used to be and that’s what these researchers are out to prove next.

Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.