Children of divorce more likely to be overweight

Children whose parents are divorced tend to be heavier than kids whose parents stay married, a new study suggests.

Researchers in Norway found that kids from divorced homes in that country were 54 percent more likely to be overweight or obese, and 89 percent were more likely to have abdominal obesity (too much weight around the waistline), compared with children from families with married parents.

The results also showed that boys from marriages that split up may be particularly vulnerable to gaining excess weight, especially around the waist, the researchers said. Having excess belly fat may increase a person’s risk for diabetes and heart disease, and could possibly shorten life span.

“We now have knowledge about how childhood overweight and obesity is distributed” among the Norwegian population, said study author Anna Biehl, a doctoral candidate at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.

But she cautioned that “the results do not say that divorce causes weight gain in children.” Although the research sheds light on whether there were any associations between family structure and children being overweight and obese in Norway, it was not designed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between these factors.

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