England: BMI is higher in children of separated parents

06 September 2019

The body mass index (BMI) of children who have separated parents is significantly higher than that of children whose families have stayed intact.

There proved to be an especially strong association if the parents’ divorce occurs before the children reach the age of six. The results, published in Demography, also showed that the effect of separation on a child’s BMI tends to increase with time since separation.

Researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) used data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study of more than 7500 children.

Dr Berkay Özcan, associate professor in LSE’s Department of Social Policy, said: ‘We show that the family context is crucially important for children’s health, and we need policies that support children and families that are undergoing a break-up.’

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