Kids with divorced parents more likely to be obese

kidsLONDON: Divorce may be linked to higher risk of obesity among kids involved, and boys may be especially prone to excess weight gain, a new research has warned.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, were based on a 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, to gauge general overweight, as defined by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), and (abdominal) obesity, as defined by a waist to height ratio of 0.5 or more.

The results were stratified by gender and parents’ marital status – married, never married, to include co-habiting, single and separated, and divorced – taking account of influential factors, such as the mother’s educational attainment, ethnic origin and area of residence.

Around one in five (19 per cent) of the children were overweight or obese according to the IOTF definition, while just under one in 10 (8.9 per cent) were (abdominally) 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 (abdominal) obesity.

More of the children whose parents were categorized as divorced were overweight or obese than those whose parents remained married.
They were 54 per cent more likely to be overweight/obese and 89 per cent more likely to be (abdominally) obese.

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

These differences were generally larger for boys whose parents were divorced. They were 63 per cent more likely to be generally overweight/obese than boys whose parents were married. And they were 104 per cent more likely to be abdominally obese.

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

Furthermore, 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 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, the authors suggest. -PTI

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