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Study Reports Mothers Today Need Fewer Calories than Mothers in 1965

Update Date: Dec 03, 2013 01:24 PM EST

According to a new study, researchers are reporting that mothers living in today's world need fewer calories per day in comparison to mothers who lived in 1965. The researchers from the University of South Carolina stated that due to media and reduced hours spent on housework, mothers today do not need as many calories as mothers in the past did. The team reported that the calorie difference from then to now is around 200.

For this study, the researchers examined data gathered over a span of 45 years. The team separated the women into two groups. The first group was made up of mothers with children aged five and younger. When the researchers compared the mothers' physical activity levels to physical activity levels of the mothers with children of the same age group living in 1965, they found that mothers today performed around 14 hours less exercise. The hours fell from 44 hours of activity a week to less than 30 hours of activity per week. This translated to two fewer hours of exercise per day in 2010, which the researchers calculated to be an extra 225 calories. On a weekly basis, women in today's world have an extra 1,573 calories when compared to mothers in 1965.

The second group of mothers had children between the ages of six and 18. For this group, the researchers found that from 1965 to 2010, the number of hours spent doing some sort of physical activity fell from 32 hours to 21 hours a week respectively. The difference of 11 hours is equivalent to an extra 177 calories per day or 1,238 calories per week. The researchers concluded that mothers living today need around 175 to 225 fewer calories than mothers in 1965. Physical activity was measured based on general child care, playing with children, prepping meals, cleaning up meals, general housework and time spent exercising or participating in sports.

The researchers also reported that not only are mothers spending less time doing housework, they are also spending more time sitting in front of a screen. In a previous study published earlier this year, researchers found that women living in 2010 spent around 25 percent more time in front of computers and television as opposed to cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.

"With each passing generation, mothers have become increasingly physically inactive, sedentary, and obese, thereby potentially predisposing children to an increased risk of inactivity, adiposity [fat], and chronic non-communicable diseases," lead researcher Edward Archer said according to Daily Mail. "Given that physical activity is an absolute prerequisite for health and wellness, it is not surprising that inactivity is now a leading cause of death and disease in developed nations. Inactivity has increased significantly over the past 45 years and may be the greatest public health crisis facing the world today."

Due to the possibility of passing down sedentary habits to future generations, the researchers hope that their findings could encourage mothers to be more active. Physical activity does not have to be household work-related.

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