Kids Of Divorced Parents Have A Higher Risk Of Being Overweight Or Obese

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Divorce has been linked to a higher risk of overweight and obesity among children affected by the marital split.

And boys may be especially prone to excess weight gain.

The researchers base their findings, published in the journal BMJ Open, on a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 pupils attending 127 schools across Norway.

School nurses measured the height, weight, and waist circumference of the children whose average age was 8.

Around one in five (19%) of the children was overweight or obese while just under one in 10 (8.9%) was obese.

Overall, significantly more of the 1,537 girls were overweight or obese than the 1,629 boys but there were no differences in the prevalence of obesity.

More of the children whose parents were categorised as divorced were overweight or obese than those whose parents remained married.

They were 54% more likely to be overweight/obese and 89% more likely to be obese.

Children whose parents had never married had a similar prevalence of overweight and obesity to those with married parents.

The findings held true even after taking account of other possible explanatory factors.

But these differences were generally larger for boys whose parents were divorced. They were 63% more likely to be generally overweight/obese than boys whose parents were married.

The authors caution that the design of their study does not provide a basis for establishing cause and effect.

And they were unable to glean how long parents had been divorced, nor were they able to include lifestyle factors such as the children’s normal diet and exercise regime.

Possible explanations for the link to divorce could include less time spent on domestic tasks such as cooking, an
over-reliance on unhealthier convenience foods and ready meals, and lower household income.

The emotional fall-out of a divorce and resulting stress generated by disruptions in the parent-child relationship, ongoing conflict between the exes, moving home and the need to create new social networks, might also explain the findings.

And boys might just be more vulnerable, the authors say.

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