THE WEIGHT OF WORK: Estimating mechanisms through which maternal employment contributes to weight status among immigrant and migrant mothers.
opportunities are a critical factor underlying global migration patterns and work itself
dynamically influences the rhythm and quality of daily life. Immigrants and migrants
(im/migrants) are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs that may have adverse
physical and psychosocial health effects. Following their arrival in the United States
im/migrants experience numer... read moreous changes--some of which are more positive than others.
With greater acculturation, im/migrants frequently increase their educational attainment
and income, yet a robust body of research illustrates a relationship between greater
duration in the US and lower diet quality and higher rates of obesity. Few quantitative
studies have considered the role that employment may play in these patterns. This
dissertation research analyzed two cross-sectional datasets to estimate the contribution
of employment and acculturation to food-related behaviors, physical activity, depressive
symptoms, and weight status among im/migrant mothers in the US. Using nationally
representative time-use diaries from the 2003-2011 American Time Use Survey (ATUS),
ordinary least squares models were developed to estimate time spent in food- preparation
separately for working and non-working Hispanic mothers (ages 18-65 with at least 1
child <13, N=3634), adjusting for acculturation, sociodemographic and socioeconomic
characteristics, and survey year. Working an eight-hour day was associated with spending
38 fewer minutes in food preparation (-38.0 ± SE 4.8, p<.001). Being US-born was
associated with spending fewer minutes in food preparation; this relationship varied by
origin group among working mothers. For Puerto Ricans, time in food-preparation did not
vary by birthplace (0.32 min), but US-born Mexican-Americans (-27.1 min), South and
Central Americans (-24.8), and Other Hispanics (-15.1 min) spent significantly less time
preparing food on the diary day compared to their im/migrant counterparts. After
adjusting for covariates, neither workday length nor US nativity were associated with
the length of the evening meal; however, mothers who worked late (after 6pm) spent fewer
minutes eating dinner together (-8.2 ± SE 1.2 p<.001) Next, we used ATUS data
(2003-2010) to describe how occupational physical activity contributes to total energy
expenditure for employed Hispanic mothers who worked on the diary day (n=965).
Activities and occupations reported in the ATUS were linked with metabolic equivalent
values (METs) and categorized as sedentary, light, and moderate. Mothers with sedentary
occupations accrued significantly more sedentary time (569.7 ± 13.3 min) than women
with light (194.3 ± 5.8 min, p<.001) or moderately active jobs (186.4 ± 7.4
min, p<.001). Occupational physical activity mediated the relationship between
acculturation and total sedentary time. Baseline data from LiveWell, a community-based
lifestyle intervention among recently immigrated (<10 years) Brazilian, Haitian, and
Latin American mothers (ages 18-55, child ages 3- 12, N=383), were used to estimate the
relationships among occupational physical activity, food- related behaviors, depressive
symptoms, and weight status. Women in the highest quartile of occupational physical
activity were 59% less likely to be obese than those in the lowest quartile (95% CI:
0.23-0.76)--65% less likely, after adjusting for sedentary behavior, income, and other
characteristics (95% CI: 0.16-0.76). However, they were also twice as likely to report
high depressive symptoms (CESD score ≥16, 2.08, 95% CI: 1.02-4.24) and to
purchase prepared foods > 1 time/week. Overall, results suggest that
occupations--through their relationships with food-related behavior, physical activity,
sedentary behavior, and depressive symptoms--are an important contributor to maternal
weight status and psychological health among
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2014.
Submitted to the Dept. of Food Policy & Applied Nutrition.
Advisor: Christina Economos.
Committee: Aviva Must, Flavia Perea, and John Cawley.
Keywords: Nutrition, Public health, and Occupational safety.read less