Children of single-parent families are at greater risk of being overweight or obese than children of two-parent families, according to a new survey and girls from single parent households may be particularly at risk.
According to data gathered by the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, parental status may be associated with children’s health outcomes, including their eating habits, body weight and blood cholesterol.
These findings came from the study of 8717 children, studying their body weight; eating habits, and blood cholesterol. It was found that children of one-parent households eat less fruit and vegetables, eat more processed fatty foods, and move less, leading to likelihood of childhood overweight and obesity.
The obseogenic factors leading to this outcome include that children in single-parent households watched more television than dual-parent households. This is possibly because single parents use the television as a means to be able to get the time to do housework, meal preparation and find 'me' time, that would normally be shared with a partner.
Single-parents' children were also found to eat less fresh fruit and vegetables than children from dual-parent households. It is understandable that a busy solo parent has less time for shopping frequently, so perishable foods such as fruit and vegetables are less likely to be on the menu every day.
It was found that the diets of children of solo parents' consisted of more foods high in fat and sugar. Dietary decisions of single parents included more pre-prepared or takeaway foods which are known for their low nutritional content and high levels of fat.
For a parent watching their budget, choosing the cheaper $5 meat pie opposed to the healthier cheese and salad sandwich option, which can cost over $7, can seem the best option. As for going out and socialising it is a task to find establishments with healthy kid's meals.
The study indicated that girls of single parents were more at risk. Girls aged four to nine years whose parents were single had the highest rates of being overweight and obese. A parent's perception of a young girls safety in her neighbourhood may be the reason for the higher risk rate, as girls are less likely to be outdoors alone than boys.
The report, Parental status and childhood obesity in Australia, notes that one-in-four children between the age of five and 17 are overweight or obese. That is a statistic that is not welcomed by the Australian Health department who blame lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating patterns.
Eat less, move more that is the key.