Do Kids Make You Fat?

Photo by artur84

Photo by artur84

Only if you add sugar.

I have no doubt that having kids makes your heart fuller and your wallet slimmer, but what about your waistline? According to a study by the University of Iowa College of Medicine and the University of Michigan, living with the little darlings also makes your belly bulge. And I’m not talking about pregnancy pudge here. Nor am I referring to all of that “drinking for two” that most fathers-to-be indulge in.

Nope, an examination of the nutritional cost of parenting found that simply living with children boosts your fat intake by almost five grams a day.

Could this mean that those last few bites of macaroni and cheese, pizza crusts and Girl Scout cookie crumbs actually count as calories? Even if you eat them standing up? What if you don’t want to carry the rest of the soccer snacks all the way back to the car? Or what if you bought the extra box of candy for a good cause? Those calories couldn’t possibly make you fat.

As caring and health-conscious parents, my husband and I do our best to intervene with the Halloween candy, Christmas cookies, gingerbread houses, Hanukah gelt, chocolate Easter bunnies and infinite supply of birthday goodie bags. Was it possible that this conscientious parenting was making us fat?

Before I got too stressed out about all this (and began foraging through the leftover birthday goodie bags for chocolate), I went to the most reliable and accurate source of health information available, Google. What do you know, not only does having kids make you fat, so do a lot of other things.

The International Journal of Obesity asked a group of scientists to weigh in on some of the causes of obesity. Number one was subscribing to The International Journal of Obesity.

Their remaining top ten list: 1. Inadequate sleep (there is definitely a connection to having children there). 2. Endocrine disruptors — substances in some foods that may alter fats in the body (I knew all that celery would end up biting me in the butt). 3. Pleasant temperatures — air conditioning and heating limit calories burned from sweating and shivering. 4. Fewer smokers — less appetite suppression. Also, dying makes you very skinny. 5. Medicines that cause weight gain. 6. Population changes — more middle-aged people in the population, who have higher obesity rates. 7. Older mothers — they tend to have heavier children (because they can’t hear Junior when he asks for that fourth cookie). 8. Genetic influences during pregnancy. 9. Darwinian natural selection — fat people living longer. 10. “Assortative” mating — overweight people procreating with others of the same body type, gradually skewing the population toward the heavy end (and providing a boon for the wedding registry business by providing the “supersize” option for china, bedding, towels and lingerie).

Architecture can make you fat too. That’s right, now they are saying that buildings and the way they are designed can make you fat.

“Take out all the elevators in buildings and people would be more fit,” urges a British architect. Even making stairways easier to find will help encourage fitness. And putting houses closer to shops, restaurants and workplaces will encourage people to walk or ride bikes. That’s right, that suburban ranch house that you bought once you had kids…it’s making you fat.

To counteract this phenomenon, I hear that an aerobics tycoon in Dallas is developing a 51-acre community that will be geared around a comprehensive wellness program.

Homeowners will pay a premium to build their own homes alongside a personal trainer, in 300 hour-long sessions. Only a limited number of cars will be allowed in the complex because guess what–you know what else makes you fat–cars. According to a study of Atlanta residents, there is a correlation between driving and weight gain. Each additional hour spent in a car per day is associated with a 6% increase in the likelihood of obesity. You know where moms spend most of their lives? Cars.

All of which leads me to the obvious conclusion that the witch in Hansel and Gretel must be thin because she built her own house, drives a broom, and eats kids instead of living with them. Hmmm…could this be the new Atkins Diet?

Do kids make you fat? Sound off at by emailing For more columns visit Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on October 7, 2011.

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