Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo found that children whose parents are divorced are 54 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than children whose parents remained married. Eight-nine percent of children with divorced parents were also more likely to have abdominal obesity—too much fat around the waistline which can lead to diabetes and heart disease, according to the study.
The study analyzed data from 3,210 children between the ages of eight and nine and took into account whether their parents were married, divorced or unmarried including couples who live together.
After measuring height, weight and waste circumference and calculating body mass index and height-weight ratio, researchers found more girls were overweight than boys regardless of their parents’ marital status. But boys were more prone to issues with their weight after their parents divorced, according to Live Science.
The results suggest that boys from divorced families are more susceptible to weigh gains, especially around the waist, following their parents’ split. Boys from divorced families were 63 percent more likely to be overweight or obese and 104 percent were more likely to have abdominal obesity. Boys from homes were their parents are not married had similar obesity rates as boys whose parents were not divorced.
As for girls, 34 percent were more likely to be obese or overweight following their parents’ divorce.
Study author Anna Biehl pointed out “the results do not say that divorce causes weight gain in children.” The results however show there is an association between divorce and Norwegian children who are overweight or obese.
Although the study’s authors shied away from establishing a cause and effect relationship between a child’s weight and divorce, they suggested that divorced parents have less money to purchase healthier foods and less time to prepare balanced meals. The authors also suggested the emotional issues tied to divorce may cause children to overeat and be less active.
Other studies have linked increased risk strokes to children whose parents split. Though researchers are still trying to determine the all of the physical effects divorce can have on children, the emotional effects are well-known. However some of these effects can be negated when parents are aware of how their divorce will impact their children.
Parents, who decide to divorce, should take into account how it will affect their children and be mindful of their feelings. They should attempt to make shield their children from the in-fighting that accompanies divorce and child custody issues. This can be done by allowing a divorce attorney to give them advice on how to peacefully devise a child custody arrangement which takes into account the needs of both the parents and children.
Divorce is painful to parents and children alike, nothing will be change that, but divorce attorney can help a couple with the process and details of a divorce so they can focus on their and their children’s emotional well-being.