Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 1772–1777

Family Structure and Childhood Obesity: An Analysis Through 8th Grade

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10995-013-1422-7

Cite this article as:
Chen, A.Y. & Escarce, J.J. Matern Child Health J (2014) 18: 1772. doi:10.1007/s10995-013-1422-7

Abstract

Research on the effect of family structure on childhood obesity is scarce. This study examines the effect of number of parents and number of siblings on US children’s body mass index (BMI) and risk of obesity. We conducted a secondary data analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), which consists of a nationally representative cohort of children who entered kindergarten in 1998–1999, to examine the effect of family structure on children’s body mass index and risk of obesity from kindergarten through 8th grade. Study outcomes were BMI in kindergarten and 8th grade, obesity status in kindergarten and 8th grade, and change in BMI from kindergarten through 8th grade. Multivariate regressions were used to assess the association between family structure and study outcomes while adjusting for other covariates. In 8th grade, children with no siblings had higher BMI (23.7 vs. 22.6; P ≤ 0.01) and higher probability of being obese (25.8 vs. 19.7 %; P ≤ 0.05) than their counterparts with two or more siblings. They also had a larger increase in BMI from kindergarten through 8th grade than children living with two or more siblings (7.3 vs. 6.3; P = 0.02). Our analysis suggests that the association between family structure and obesity persists and even intensifies through 8th grade. These findings have important implications for targeting obesity support and counseling for families.

Keywords

ObesityFamily structureChild health outcomes

Abbreviations

BMI

Body mass index

CDC

Centers for disease control and prevention

ECLS

Early Childhood Longitudinal Study

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services ResearchDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.RAND HealthSanta MonicaUSA