ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – According to a new study, children whose parents are divorced are more likely to be overweight than children of parents who stay married.
Researchers from Norway found that children from divorced families were 54 percent more likely to be overweight or obese. They also found that 89 percent were more likely to have too much belly fat than children from families whose parents stayed together.
“We now have knowledge about how childhood overweight and obesity is distributed,” Anna Biehl, a doctoral candidate at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, and the study’s author, told LiveScience.
Researchers analyzed data from about 3,100 third graders. They measured each child’s weight, height, and waist circumference, and calculated body mass index and waist-to-height ratio.
The children’s parents were divided into three groups: married, divorced, and never married, which included couple who were living together and parents who were single or had separated.
The researchers found that more 8-and 9-year-old girls were overweight than boys regardless of their parents’ status.
Researchers found that boys were more prone to being overweight than girls after their parents split. Boys with divorced parents were 63 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than boys whose parents stayed together.
Researchers took into account several factors, such as mother’s education level, current area of residence, and family country background.
The researchers found that girls whose parents were divorced were 34 percent more likely to be overweight than girls whose parents stayed married.
Biehl noted in her study that “the results do not say that divorce causes weight gain in children.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
The findings were published in the online journal BMJ Open.