April 15, 2008 / 5:37 PM / 12 years ago

Motherhood linked to fewer eating problems

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women have fewer eating problems after having children compared with their peers who remain childless, largely because they stop drinking as much and behave less impulsively, according to new findings from Norway.

These findings may not hold true for women living in countries with less generous systems for supporting parents with young children, say Tilmann von Soest of Norwegian Social Research in Oslo and Dr. Lars Wichstrom of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, the study’s authors.

“In less supportive environments I would expect that parents are exposed to more stressors of, for instance, a financial and psychological nature,” von Soest told Reuters Health via email. “Such exposure to stressors may counteract the positive influence of changed life style when becoming a mother.”

Von Soest and Wichstrom followed 1,206 initially childless women for six years to determine whether becoming a mother had any influence on eating behavior.

Women did show less disordered eating after having children, which the researchers found was largely due to a reduction in impulsive behavior and a drop in alcohol use. But while women who remained childless showed increased satisfaction with their appearance over time, women who became mothers did not.

Based on the findings, von Soest said, it’s possible that reducing alcohol use and taking other steps to create a more stable lifestyle could help people to overcome eating disorders.

SOURCE: International Journal of Eating Disorders, April 2008.

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