Longitudinal Association Between Marital Disruption and Child BMI and Obesity
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This research examines whether family disruptions (i.e., divorces and separation) contribute to children’s weight problems. The sample consists of 7,299 observations for 2,333 children, aged 5–14, over the 1986–2006 period, from a US representative sample from the Child and Young Adult Survey accompanying the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). The study uses individual-fixed-effects models in a longitudinal framework to compare children’s BMI and weight problems before and after a disruption. Furthermore, besides doing a before–after comparison for children, the study also estimates the effects at various periods relative to the disruption in order to examine whether children are affected before the disruption and whether any effects change as time passes from the disruption, as some effects may be temporary or slow to develop. Despite having a larger sample than the previous studies, the results provide no evidence that, on average, children’s BMI and BMI percentile scores (measured with continuous outcomes) are affected before the disruption, after the disruption, and as time passes from the disruption, relative to a baseline period a few years before the disruption. However, children experiencing a family disruption do have an increased risk of obesity (having a BMI percentile score of 95 or higher) in the two years leading up to the disruption as well as after the disruption, and as time passes from the disruption.
The article of record as published may be located at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/oby.2012.84
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