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Divorce, child obesity linked in international study

As readers know, divorce can have a serious emotional impact on the children. Though it may be the best thing for the family, divorce is often traumatic for the divorcing couple’s sons and daughters. Some children may turn to food for comfort, an unhealthy habit that can lead to excessive weight gain.

A new study suggests that children of divorce, especially boys, are more likely to be obese than other kids. Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that boys were 63 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than average. Their stomachs are reportedly more likely to hold extra fat; boys whose parents were divorced were more than twice as likely to be “abdominally obese,” as HealthDay puts it.

Of course, in this country childhood obesity is a major problem, having more than doubled in children and quadrupled in teens since 1984. Children from all sorts of family situations struggle with being overweight. What is it about going through your parents’ divorce that could put you at even higher risk of obesity?

For younger children, whose menus are largely dictated by their parents, the effect may be due to the parents being distracted by the divorce. Single parents may be more likely to leave the kids at home alone. This makes it easier for the children to indulge in unhealthy snacks.

Also, parents who are pressed for time may be more likely to prepare unhealthy meals. They are often quicker to prepare. Plus, parents may feel like indulging their children to help make up for the stress of the divorce.

Parents who have a child custody arrangement naturally want their children to grow up as healthy as possible. Keeping a normal routine and making diet and exercise a priority could help. Even something as simple as eating meals with your kids has been linked to reduced obesity rates.

Source: HealthDay, “Kids’ Obesity Risk Rises With Parents’ Divorce: Study,” Steven Reinberg, June 4, 2014