Could Divorce be Contributing to Childhood Obesity?

Kids face a variety of challenges when their parents divorce, and one those challenges could be gaining WEIGHT.

HealthDay is reporting on new research done in Norway that found that boys are especially prone to excess weight following a divorce.

In a study of 3,000 third-graders, doctors found that boys whose parents had divorced were 63% more likely to be overweight or obese, compared to boys whose parents stayed married.

Lead researcher Dr. Anna Biehl says “Knowing which factors are associated with childhood overweight and obesity is crucial, and is the first step toward being able to prevent it.”

Dr. Biehl and her team caution that they simply found an association between divorce and weight gain, but they can’t say divorce is the cause. They also didn’t account for how long parents had been divorced or lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

There are a variety of reasons why kids from divorced families might gain weight, including less supervision at home and family stress

Sara Rivero Conil, a child psychologist at Miami Children’s Hospital points out that divorced families sometimes turn to unhealthy coping behaviors, including emotional eating and decreased activity.

Also, single parents might feel too pressed for time to cook nutritious meals.  Dr. Conil says “Some may resort to unhealthy foods because they are quicker to prepare.  Or a parent who has the kids on a weekend may want to indulge them.”

She encourages parents to keep to a normal routine after a divorce and to maintain a healthy environment, including diet and exercise.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

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