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Women are fatter today because they are doing less housework than in the past!

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 A New York Times article about a study that links U.S. women's expanding waistlines to the fact that they do less housework has sparked a wave of outrage online, where readers decried the piece for being sexist.

"Attn ladies, maybe if you put a little more time into housework you wouldn't be so fat," tweeted Taylor Lorenz as she shared the article, entitled "What Housework Has to Do With Waistlines."

"Are you kidding? You just completely discredited yourselves as a newspaper," commented Agnes Shugardt
on the New York Times Facebook page. (Danielle Rhoads-Ha, director of communications for the New York Times, told Yahoo! Shine that since the outcry is over the study, and not the way the article was written or reported, the newspaper had no comment on it.)

"WOMEN: You're fat because you don't do housework anymore. (Nice double whammy.) #whywasthisevenastudy,"
tweeted Sarah B.

The controversial study -- funded by a grant from Coca Cola -- was published this month in PLoS One and, as Gretchen Reynolds points out in The New York Times, it's actually a follow up to a 2011 study about workplace physical activity and obesity. In the 2011 report (which was not sponsored), researchers analyzed data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that American workers have become far less active over the past 50 years. Instead of walking around a factory or lifting things on the job as was common in the 1960s, we now spend more time sitting at a desk, using the computer, and talking on the phone. That means that while our brains may be getting more exercise, our bodies aren't—the average American worker now burns 150 fewer calories at work each day than just a generation ago.

But the study was missing a key demographic: women.

"Fifty years ago, a majority of women did not work outside of the home," Edward Archer, lead author of the new study and a research fellow with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, told the New York Times. He reached out to some of the people involved in the 2011 study to look at how women worked during that same time frame, and whether their levels of physical activity had changed over the last 50 years as well.

Using data from the American Heritage Time Use Study gathered between 1965 and 2010, Archer examined the "time-use diaries" of women age 19 to 64, some of whom worked outside of the home and the rest of whom were not employed. His team tracked how much time women said they spent doing various activities, and how may calories they were probably using up doing those tasks. (Worth noting: The researchers did not track calories expended during childcare, which, as any parent knows, can be substantial. They also did not analyze eating habits or the differences in availability of highly processed foods between 1965 and 2010.)

The bottom line? Women, even ones who manage their homes instead of big businesses, are also less physically active now than they used to be. In 1965, women spent an average of 25.7 hours each week cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry. By 2010, women were spending an average of 13.3 hours each week on housework. Like their male counterparts, women who worked outside of the home are spending far more time sitting down in front a screen at the office these days, but Archer and his team were surprised to find that even women who stayed home were spending more time watching TV—16.5 hours per week in 2010, up from about eight hours a week in 1965.

All that down time adds up. Housewives and stay-at-home moms now burn about 360 fewer calories per day than they did in the 1960s. Women who commute to an office are also burning about 132 fewer calories at home than they used to.

"Those are large reductions in energy expenditure," Archer explains. "We need to start finding ways to incorporate movement back into" the time we all spend at home.

But still, readers—mostly women—seemed to react mainly to the headline on the New York Times story.

"Really, NYT? Really?,"
tweeted Christa Desir. "American are fat bc they aren't vacuuming? Fail."

Others apparently didn't read the article at all: Plenty of people on Twitter and Facebook called the article sexist and wondered why so many modern men are overweight.

Given the way technology has changed housework, it's unlikely that more housework would make much a difference for either gender, though. Old-fashioned vacuum cleaners were clunky and hard to push, requiring a lot more physical energy to use than today's lightweight models, and bending and stretching to hang laundry on a line in the 1960s burned more calories than transferring a load from the washer to the dryer.

"Pass the vacuum, please!"
tweeted Tammy Beasley. "Bottom line? Need to move more whether we work at or away from home."

So do you agree? Disagree?

by on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:26 PM
Replies (31-40):
by on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:51 PM
1 mom liked this

Makes sense.  But you have to also factor in stress and pregnancy that lead to building fat.  Compared to 50-100 years ago women today have it easy with cleaning houses.  There's less home cooked meals and less meals cooked from scratch today too (a skill that I think all women should get).  Less kids are exercising which contributes to our growing obesity epidemic in this country.  Poor eating and exercise habits in childhood follow into adulthood.  It is a lot of factors-not just women's housework being different then it was 50 years ago.

Dragon, wife to Eagle.  Sister-wife to Swan and Rainbow.  Author, astronomer, world traveler, gamer, & reader.  Muslim revert.  In an inter-racial and cross-cultural marriage.

Dragon Eyes and Writings of Suon Wolf

by on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:51 PM


That's it.

Less housework.

Nailed it!

by Anonymous 8 on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:51 PM
1 mom liked this

Not really the woman's job, but the person staying at home.  Being a stay at home mom is your job, so cleaning house properly, taking care of the children, and taking care of yourself IS your job.  If your husband works and you stay home he does not have to clean house and should not clean house.  Just like you get a break at work, computer and tv should be a short break between doing what you are supposed to, not hours at a time like most SAHM on here.

Quoting Anonymous:

women today actually work HARDER because most hold down jobs, plus they have to responsiblity of housework(even though it should NOT fall on the woman only).  Stress is a big problem with women today and that can lead to weight gain.  I do not like this article and I do believe it is sexist.  Anyone who thinks it is the sole responsibility of the woman to clean house is a jerk. IMO  Also, my grandparents generation grew up eating lots of nice home cooked meals, butter, potatoes, bacon, sausage,homemade pies and cakes, etc... sure, fast food was not so available, but none of my parents or grandparents actually had "healthy" eating habits.

by on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:53 PM


by on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:53 PM

um.. well then how do they explain my fat ass? cause I clean almost every day.. 

I think it has more to do with other things.. more entertainment that you sit at.. (TV, Movies, Computers, Gaming Systems), More fatty foods that are more convenient to get, Fatty foods that are easier to get.  Things like that.. 

by Angie on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:53 PM
1 mom liked this

Perhaps women are becoming fatter because lack of activity.  Running from your doorstep to the car and driving everywhere is not an active lifestyle.  Fast food, microwave `cooking' and establishments being open 24 hrs a day for consumption is ridiculous.  I made a promise to myself when I married 23 years ago that I would not use pregnancy as an excuse for weight gain, that I would continue  exercising, walking, playing tennis etc, opposed to driving and to cook real meals.   After 7 kids, and at the age of 47, I am still the same size I was at 23. 

by Silver Member on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM

 This...both things! lol.

Quoting HistoryNutty:

I totally read that as 'homework' and not 'housework.'

I think the expanding waistlines are more due to the fact that there's so much more convenience foods available.


by Gold Member on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Studies like these I find hard to believe,  If a college did it themselves maybe but sponsered by Coke-cola says to me,  its Not soft drinks making you fat its less housework.  

by Ruby Member on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM
Quoting HistoryNutty:

I think there was a mcds that did open in cali, but if i remember right when krocker or w/e his name was bought out his partners he started the first official franchise in il.
by Sapphire Member on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:56 PM

They have a point but I think as a whole people are lazier now. Too many convenience foods and stuff 

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