Please Ladies of Cockytalk...don't shoot the messenger
What Housework Has to Do With Waistlines
One reason so many American women are overweight may be that we are vacuuming and doing laundry less often, according to a new study published this month in PLoS One
The study is a follow-up to an influential 2011 report
which used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine that, during the past 50 years, most American workers began sitting down on the job. Physical activity at work, such as walking or lifting, almost vanished, according to the data, with workers now spending most of their time seated before a computer or talking on the phone. Consequently, the authors found, the average American worker was burning almost 150 fewer calories daily at work than his or her employed parents had, a change that had materially contributed to the rise in obesity during the same time frame, especially among men, the authors concluded.
“Fifty years ago, a majority of women did not work outside of the home,” said Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and lead author of the new study.
So, in collaboration with many of the authors of the earlier study of occupational physical activity, Dr. Archer set out to find data about how women had once spent their hours at home and whether and how their patterns of movement had changed over the years.
Women, they found, once had been quite physically active around the house, spending, in 1965, an average of 25.7 hours a week cleaning, cooking and doing laundry. Those activities, whatever their social freight, required the expenditure of considerable energy. In general at that time, working women devoted somewhat fewer hours to housework, while those not employed outside the home spent more.
Forty-five years later, in 2010, things had changed dramatically. By then, the time-use diaries showed, women were spending an average of 13.3 hours per week on housework. More striking, the diary entries showed, women at home were now spending far more hours sitting in front of a screen.
In 1965, women typically had spent about eight hours a week sitting and watching television. (Home computers weren’t invented yet.) By 2010, those hours had more than doubled, to 16.5 hours per week. In essence, women had exchanged time spent in active pursuits, like vacuuming, for time spent being sedentary. In the process, they had also greatly reduced the number of calories that they typically expended during their hours at home. According to the authors’ calculations, American women not employed outside the home were burning about 360 fewer calories every day in 2010 than they had in 1965, with working women burning about 132 fewer calories at home each day in 2010 than in 1965.