A joint study conducted by researchers at University of Houston and Rice University suggests that children whose parents are not married but are cohabiting are nearly twice as likely to be obese compared to children whose parents are married.
The researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, which involved more than 10,400 children in the United States. The study also included interviews with the primary caregivers when the children were nine-months-old, two years old, four years old and when they were in kindergarten.
The researchers found that children whose parents were married were 17 percent likely to be obese compared to 31 percent of children whose parents were not married.
"Childhood obesity is a significant public health issue in our country, with nearly one third of all U.S. children aged two to 17 overweight or obese. For reasons we cannot fully measure, there appears to be something about people who marry and have a child that is fundamentally different than the other groups, and these factors are also linked to children's weight", lead researcher Dr Rachel Kimbro said.