Children whose parents divorce are more likely to get fat than their peers whose parents stay together, new research has revealed.
According to the study by researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science, children whose parents divorce before they are six are particularly impacted.
For the study, the researchers analysed data collected by the UK Millennium Cohort Study on 7,574 children born between 2000 and 2002. Of the children involved, 1,573 (around one in five) had witnessed their parents divorce by the time they were 11.
These kids gained more weight in the 24-month period following their parents’ divorce than their peers whose parents remained together. Furthermore, the kids whose parents had divorced were also more likely to become overweight or obese within 36 months of their parents separating.
The authors of the paper say their findings underline how much of an impact a divorce can have on children and that parental separation is “a process with potentially long-lasting consequences”. As a result, the authors are calling for more health help and support to be given to families going through a break-up.
The paper also offers some reasons why children put on weight following a divorce, namely:
- There’s often less money in separated households for fresh fruit and vegetables
- Parents having to work longer hours, so there’s less time to prepare nutritious food
- There’s often less money for extra-curricular activities, including sport
- Parents with less time and energy to promote healthy eating habits in their children
- Emotional problems leading to parents overfeeding their children and kids eating too much sugary and fatty food