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Divorce may increase a child's chance of obesity

13343886_S.jpgAnyone who has considered divorce or even read about divorce is likely aware of studies about the effects of divorce on children. Psychological concerns are prevalent in these studies. But a recent study focuses more on the physiological effects, specifically weight issues among children of divorce.

A recent study found that of about 1,000 third graders whose parents were divorced, almost one-fifth were considered to be obese or at least overweight based on criteria of the International Obesity Task Force. This result in itself is concerning, but when those numbers are extrapolated to include the health effects of obesity, it becomes even more alarming if these children continue to be obese into adulthood. Diabetes and heart disease are commonly associated with obesity.

One interesting fact from the study is that boys are more likely to be obese than girls. Those who conducted the study hypothesize that boys are less likely to express their emotions, causing them to indulge their feelings in food.

The study looked at numerous reasons why this result occurs. One sociological theory is that mothers usually have physical custody of their children, and in such cases the children may be responsible for preparing their own meals, leading to less healthy choices. In other cases, mothers are left financially unstable, and poverty is linked to obesity.

Another theory is that after a divorce both parents may vie for their child’s affection and give them whatever they want out of guilt. If a child wants ice cream instead of broccoli, they may be more likely to get the sweet treat.

Some may think that this supports the belief that parents should stay together for the sake of the children. However, staying together for the sake of the children and the conflicts that will likely result may not always be in the best interest of the child.

Every divorce has its own unique set of circumstances. The counsel of a Missouri family law attorney who is experienced in the conflicts of divorce may help to minimize the effects on all family members.

Source: Time Magazine, “Boys of divorced parents twice as likely to be obese,” Belinda Luscombe, June 4, 2014

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