Data collection for the study began in 2001. The primary caregivers of the children participated in the first wave of the in-home interviews when their children were approximately 9 months old. Data was subsequently collected when the children were 2 years old, in preschool (approximately age 4) and in kindergarten. The sample included children from diverse socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as an oversample of Asian, Pacific Islander, Alaska Native, American Indian, twins and low-birth-weight children. Forty-six percent of the children were racial or ethnic minorities, 25 percent were poor and 16 percent of the children had mothers without high school diplomas.
The interviews included assessments of the children's height, weight and other measures of development, such as cognitive functioning. The children were organized in eight mutually exclusive categories designed to account for the children's current family structure and the one they were born into.
The authors hope their research will inspire future studies of nontraditional family structures and their impact on health and weight.
"For reasons we cannot fully measure, there appears to be something about people who marry and have a child that is fundamentally different than the other groups, and these factors are also linked to children's weight," Kimbro said.
"Our hope is that this research will encourage further exploration of this topic," said Kimbro's co-author, Jennifer Augustine. "There is substantial research on how family structure matters to other domains of children's development, yet little research on why marriage and other
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