Child Obesity: Daughters Of Single Parents Twice More Likely To Grow Up Obese, Study Finds

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald April 13, 04:00 am

A study suggested daughters raised in a single parent household could likely grow up obese. Researchers from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia learned factors to weight gain in children vary greatly between boys and girls.

The experts looked into records culled from the Queensland Health data. They analyzed over 3,500 children's profile from surveys done in 2009 and 2011 in Queensland, Australia.

The kids' parents also answered questions about their sons' or daughters' diet, lifestyle and physical statistics as well as their socio-economic situation. The experts published their findings in the Public Health journal.

Some nine percent of children in the Queensland research in the ages of five to 17-years-old were obese. The experts compared this to the national childhood obesity average, which was at seven percent.

Among children ages five to 11-years-old, 12 percent of boys were obese while girls were at 11 percent. Among children in the ages of 12-years-old to 17-years-old, four percent of girls and seven percent of boys were obese.

The experts determined higher obesity problems among those who live in disadvantaged communities. These are areas where education and after-school activities are lacking or parents are either unemployed or separated.

The children in these families ate mostly unhealthy takeaway food or had little sports activities because money was tight. "Often people have limited food budgets and they will spend it on food they know their children will eat as opposed to food they are worried their children won't eat," nutrition expert Aloysa Hourigan said, as per ABC News Australia.

The researchers, however, noted that for daughters specifically, the parental social disadvantage was a factor to weight gain more than a healthy diet or regular exercise. "The older girls were also three times more likely to be obese if they were from a single-parent household," Professor Peter O'Rourke said.

"The message we wish to get home to parents is that they should take responsibility for the things that they can manage," the professor added. Obesity problems in young age can affect children in older age with complications from chronic diseases.

Experts, however, haven't determined what direct factors are causing obesity problems among daughters from a single-parent household. "More research is needed in this area," O'Rourke said.

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