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Newcastle Uni shows women "shoulder responsibility"

Date 12 Dec 2006
Author The Editor

Three-quarters of women still do most of the cooking and food shopping for their partner and family, new findings from Newcastle University’s Human Nutrition Research Centre suggest. The study of nearly 200 Northumberland men and women in their early 30s found that although half of the women worked full time, 79% still shouldered most of the responsibility for making sure their household was fed. The results, which highlight how important women continue to be in influencing food choices, could help shape health intervention policies.

Dr Amelia Lake, lead author of the study, said: "Women have made great progress in terms of equal opportunities over the last few decades so it surprised us to find that many women, even in this relatively young age group, assumed the traditional female role of chief cook and food shopper. "Celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay have helped change the image of cooking as 'women's work' and many cook books are aimed at men. Yet our research suggested men like to use cooking as a chance to show off occasionally, while women are left with the day-to-day chores.”

The reasons given for the divide included the belief that women made healthier food choices, that women could do the shopping faster than their partners, and that men were often tempted by 'unnecessary treats' whilst shopping.

Dr Lake said: "This work shows how important it is to consider the role of women when developing health intervention policies. Health professionals should also consider this when giving advice on healthy lifestyles and eating. For instance, there's no point solely advising a diabetic male on how to structure his diet when he isn't doing the food shopping or cooking - you need to see his wife, too!"

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