Study links increase in weight to decline in household chores

The best way to lose some pounds could be to pick up that vacuum.

This New York Times story may sound like the beginning of a sexist joke, but a legitimate study shows that one of the reasons American women may be increasingly overweight is that they perform fewer household chores than they did in the past.

The study, published at, examined time-use diaries to look at the way women used their time for household management over 45 years. When the activities of women in 1965 were compared to present day, researchers found, not surprisingly, that women in 2010 are spending way more time each week sitting in front of a screen — 16.8 hours, compared to just eight hours in 1965. Women in 2010 were also spending less time doing household chores.

Bottom line: women today are using fewer calories around the house than they did in 1965, something that will cause weight gain if calories are not cut to compensate for the difference.

The study is a follow-up to one done in 2011 that looked at the increase in workers sitting on the job in the past fifty years, the New York Times writes. That study skewed largely towards men, as many women didn’t work outside the home more than half a century ago.

The study’s lead author, Edward Archer, assures the reporter that the study doesn’t mean women, or men, should be doing any more housework. He also points out that modern technologies, such as washing machines and lighter vacuums, make household chores easier than they were in the ’60s, meaning fewer calories are expended.