Divorce is never easy, especially if there are children involved. In addition to the risk of emotional and psychological trauma, children of divorce are also at higher risk of developing physical problems relating to weight.

A study has found that children whose parents are divorced are more likely to gain weight compared to those whose parents are together. The weight gain is particularly present in children whose parents divorced before they were 6 years old.

Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science analyzed the data of over 7,574 children born between the years 2000 to 2002. The authors of the study have said that their findings prove that families going through a divorce need better health support. The paper also suggests a variety of reasons why children may put on weight after a divorce, both non-economic and economic

These include:

  • Less money for fruits and vegetables because of separated households
  • Parents have to work more hours, and having less time to prepare nutritious food
  • Less money for extra-curricular activities that involve physical exercise such as sports
  • Parents who do not have the time and energy to establish healthy eating habits in their kids
  • Emotional problems leading to parents who overfeed their children and children who eat too much fatty and sugary foods

The children who were surveyed were at the ages of 9 months, 3 years, 5, 7, 11, and 14 years old, although the study excluded the data collected at 14 as the researchers wanted to focus on the time before adolescence.

Of the children who were studied, 1,573—or about one out of five—had seen their parents divorce by the time they were 11 years old.

The study also looked at the children’s weight, height, age, and gender to calculate their body mass index, a widely used tool to measure whether individuals are at a healthy weight, overweight, underweight, or obese.

The results showed that the children of divorced parents gained more weight during the two years after their parents divorced compared to the children whose parents stayed together for the same amount of time.

The study also found that children of divorced parents were more likely to become obese or overweight within three months of the divorce.

The researchers say that the results of the study underscore the idea that a divorce is “a process with potentially long-lasting consequences.”

Children of Divorce Studies show that children whose parents divorce before they are 6 are more likely to gain weight compared to children whose parents are together. The study also found that children of divorce are more likely to become overweight or obese within 3 years of the divorce. Photo: StockSnap / Pixabay