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According to a recent study, women who work part time have the healthiest children.

The researchers found that the children of these women were less likely to be obese compared with the children of full-time working or stay-at-home mothers.

The children whose mothers had a part-time job also consumed fewer unhealthy meals, watched TV less and were more physically active than other children of the same age.

Lead researcher, Professor Jan Nicholson from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, in Melbourne, Australia said the study results showed part-time work could have positive benefits.

What we're seeing is that mums who work part-time are better able to balance their work demands with family life and are more able to monitor their children's eating habits and activities, which has direct health benefits for children, she explained.

We need to find ways to provide full-time working parents with the ability to do that by promoting family-friendly work policies, she added.

It was still unclear why the children of stay-at-home mothers were more likely to be obese, Prof Nicholson said.

The study highlighted that some of the mothers who were not working were unemployed, rather than choosing to stay at home. There was likely to be a correlation between poverty and children's weight.

It's possible that work, when it allows mothers to balance the demands of home and family, may lead to mothers spending more time with their children on activities that have benefits for their children's healthy lifestyles, said Prof Nicholson.

The study examined the impact of working hours the mothers had on the habits and weight of 4,983 children, studying them when they were between four to five years of age and again between six and seven years of age.

Genetic influence was ruled out, as the link between part-time work and healthy weight remained even after the adjustment of the weights of mothers was done.

The findings of the study are published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.