NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - A new UMass Boston/Boston College study says that one out of every six Massachusetts teens is at risk of becoming obese, and what their parents do for work has a large role to play in why.
Obesity is just one of the risks exposed in the study: drop out rates and prolonging poverty were other factors triggered by a teen's parent having a low-income job.
The study says that an estimated 16 million U.S. families are headed by parents with low-quality jobs, and that can take a toll on their children. Professors say parents working low-income jobs cannot cover the basic household needs, therefore, teens who are part of these families are more likely to drop out of school or have a greater likelihood of experiencing health problems.
Thalia Ghazey of Hatfield is a social worker. She says that it is scary to hear these statistics as a parent, but it is something that she sees on a regular basis.
"I face this a lot when I work in school. It's an unfortunate situation that we need to do a lot about as a community," Ghazey said.
Researchers defined "low-wage" as earning hourly pay that's less than two-thirds of the state median hourly wage. The state's minimum wage is $8.00 per hour.
Among the proposed solutions are more parental job benefits like sick leave or schedule flexibility.