There are several blogs posted on this site discussing the link between marriage/divorce and health. Thus far, all of these blogs have focused on the health of the spouses themselves. A new study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Oslo has now found that children of divorced parents may have health risks as well. New Study Funds Link Between Children Of Divorce And Obesity, by Taryn Hillin, The Huffington Post, June 5, 2014.
In that study, researchers studied 3,166 Norwegian third graders to determine how their parents’ marital status affected their weight. The results were startling: “Children of divorced parents had a 54 percent higher prevalence of general overweight (including obesity) and 89 percent higher prevalence of abdominal obesity compared to children of married parents.” The researchers speculated as to what contributed to these statistics. They reasoned that, after a divorce, parents may be stretched for time and may rely more on convenient, ready to eat foods rather than cooking at home. In addition, parents may be stretched financially after a divorce, which may result in choosing cheaper, less healthy food options. Further, the stress of a parent’s divorce may impact a child’s eating behavior and physical activity.
Divorcing parents should take responsibility to ensure that their children do not end up negatively impacted by the divorce as the children were in this study. While both parents will be stretched in different directions after a divorce, take time to talk to your kids and make sure they are getting what they need both physically and emotionally. This can help them better deal with the changes and hopefully avoid the health risks associated with divorce.