Divorce is a difficult time for everyone. Not only does it mark the end of a relationship, but it marks the start of an entirely new period in family life. There are a lot of adjustments to be made, and it's not smooth sailing.
One study has found that children of divorced parents are more likely to gain weight. According to the BBC, the London School of Economics and Political Science studied data collected from 7547 children born between 2000 and 2002. Each child involved was surveyed at nine months, three years, five, seven and 11. About one in five of the children had separated parents by the time they were 11 years old. Researchers found that those children gained more weight in the first two years after their parents split compared to kids whose parents remained a couple. Children were also foun more likely to become obese if their parents were no longer together.
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This evidence seems to support the theory that divorce can have a lasting impact on the children involved. As the research stopped at age 11, there's no real way to know just how long this effect could last. Authors of the study proposed a range of reasons for why these results were found. For instance, in families surviving on one income, there may be less money to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables. Similarly, if parents are having to work more hours in order to provide, then meals are often prepared in a hurry, and not necessarily as nutritious.
Other monetary factors include not having enough money to budget for extracurricular activities such as sports. Single-parent families often can't afford as many holidays, which are typically very active times for kids involved in swimming and walking. Parents who are often busy doing everything single-handed also have less time to teach their children about healthy eating, suggest researchers. They speculate that the emotional side effects of a split can lead to comfort eating, especially sugary and fatty foods. Parents may think they are "treating" a child, when really it's contributing to the problem.
Noticing the issue early on or taking steps to avoid it altogether is key to avoiding a further situation down the road. It won't be easy, but fixing this issue will prevent problems in the future.