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Prevalence of Obesity Up for Children of Divorced Parents

In gender-specific analyses, marital status, adiposity measures link only significant for boys

FRIDAY, June 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children of divorced parents have increased prevalence of general and abdominal obesity, according to a study published online June 4 in BMJ Open.

Anna Biehl, from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to examine the correlation between parental marital status and obesity in children. Data for height, weight, and waist circumference were obtained for 3,166 third graders (mean age, 8.3 years) from 127 primary schools across Norway.

The researchers found that the prevalence of general overweight, including obesity, was increased 1.54-fold among children of divorced parents versus those of married parents. The corresponding prevalence ratio was 1.89 for abdominal obesity. The correlation between parental marital status and measures of adiposity was only significant for boys (P = 0.04 for general overweight, including obesity, and P = 0.01 for abdominal obesity) in gender-specific analyses. Adjustment for maternal education, family country background, and current area of residence did not impact estimates.

"This study provides valuable information by focusing on societal changes in order to identify vulnerable groups," the authors write.

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