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Discouraging reports all over the world describe the increase in thevalence of childhood obesity and the need for something to be done. Weight gain in children is always a balance of genes and environmental influences including an abundance of high calorie foods and drinks and a decrease in physical activity. Many factors within the family contribute to overeating in our children. These include parental education, occupation, obesity and age, family income, number of siblings, and parental beliefs and practices. One of the family features that has not been fully explored is the tangible status of the parents.

Studies have shown that children who lived with single mothers were significantly more likely to develop obesity after a 6-year follow-up, compared to those with married parents. Forty years ago, only about 11% of children lived in a single parent home. In 2009, 40% of American children were born to single parents. More than 50% of children will live sometime in their childhood with only a single parent, while 25% end up living with one biological parent and a step parent. The most common type of single-parent family is one that consist of a mother and her biological children.

In 2002, 16.5 million or 23 percent of all children were living with their single mother. When single families are mother headed the economic burden is greater. The balance of work and family duties became distorted. Children are left alone, without adult supervision or placed in day care because mother's are required to work longer hours. Many single mothers pay large fees for daycare services. This break in the traditional family is responsible for a lot of fast food eating and eating on-the- run. Even more important is when one parent goes about sabotaging the efforts of the other.

  • Child's emotional insecurity, parental conflict and departure
  • Unfavorable changes in socioeconomic status associated with income decline
  • Disruptions in routines and expectations.
  • Conduct disorders, anger, loneliness, lack of self regulation, depression, anxiety
  • Parental neglect
  • Dissolution of family eating times, more snacking, eating in front of a TV (Divorce has shown to significantly increase TV viewing time)

When mealtimes and snacks are changed from day-to-day, the young child who drives on routine and order, ends confused and are unable to learn to respond to the normal signals telling him to eat and to stop eating. All of these family disruptions add up to significant problems with overeating children and teens.

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Source by Richard Lipman MD

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