Study Finds Link Between Children of Divorce And Obesity

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 06/06/2014 | 02:30 PM EDT

Researchers say children of divorce tend to be more overweight than children whose parents never split

A new study suggests that children of divorce are affected far more than just from a psychological and emotional can also impact their health.

Research from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Oslo concludes that children of divorce tend to be more overweight than children whose parents never split. The discovery was made after researchers studied 3,166 Norwegian third graders to determine whether or not their parents' marital status affected their weight.


For the study, school nurses measured the children's body weight and height while they were wearing light clothing and no shoes. Data for parental marital status was taken from the National Population Registry and broken up into three groups: married, divorced and never married.

According to the authors of the study, children of divorced parents had a 54 percent higher prevalence of general overweight and obesity and 89 percent higher prevalence of abdominal obesity compared to children of married parents.

Results also found a trend based on gender. Boys with divorced parents were at greater risk; they had a 63 percent higher prevalence of being overweight than boys with married parents.

The researchers note that correlation does not mean causation, but they did speculate as to why this study and other studies have turned up similar results, writing, "A consequence [of divorce] might be less time for domestic tasks such as cooking and reliance on more convenient, ready-to-eat foods.”


Researchers also speculate that fewer economic resources may lead to cheaper, less healthy food choices and that increased emotional distress caused by divorce could impact eating behavior and physical activity.

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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