There was no link between maternal work and 'unhealthy snacking'. The research challenges the stereotype of working mothers who regularly dish out ready made meals, to reveal that children of parents who work may be fed more healthily.
Less healthy eating was reduced amongst mothers who worked part-time, full-time, or were unemployed, sick or disabled.
Neither 'less healthy eating' nor 'unhealthy snacking' were related to whether or not the family ate meals together on a daily basis or to family structure (child living with both birth parents, a step- or a lone parent).
Dr Helen Sweeting, from the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, said: : "Most studies tend to find healthier diets among children who eat more meals with their families, so our finding of no relationship is surprising. Our study, which is one of very few to look at maternal employment and children's diets, turns on its head the stereotype of working mothers dishing out ready-made less healthy meals and suggests that children of working mothers might be fed more healthily. But the factors which had the strongest relationships with poorer diet were living in a deprived area and having a mother with fewer qualifications."