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Children of married parents less likely to be obese
Date:5/22/2013

Children living in households where the parents are married are less likely to be obese, according to new research from Rice University and the University of Houston.

"Childhood obesity is a significant public health issue in our country, with nearly one-third of all U.S. children ages 2-17 overweight or obese," said Rachel Kimbro, study co-author, associate professor of sociology at Rice and director of Rice's Kinder Institute Urban Health Program. "Despite this, very little research has been conducted to explore the impact of family structure on this epidemic."

In a recent edition of the Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, research by Kimbro and colleagues shows that children living in a traditional two-parent married household are less likely to be obese (17 percent obesity rate) than children living with cohabitating parents, who have a 31 percent obesity rate. The obesity rate is even higher for children living with an adult relative (29 percent), single mother (23 percent) and cohabitating stepparent family (23 percent). The study did not evaluate children of same-sex couples, due to lack of available data. The higher rates for nontraditional parent families were observed even after the researchers accounted for factors associated with childhood obesity, including diet, physical activity and socio-economic status.

The exception to this finding was children living with single fathers or in married stepparent households, who had an obesity rate of 15 percent.

"Previous research has shown that single-father households tend to have more socio-economic resources than single-mother households," Kimbro said. "And since socio-economic status is the single greatest predictor of health, it serves to explain why children in single-father households may be less likely to be obese."

The study, "Family Structure and Obesity Among U.S. Children," examined the obesity rates
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Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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