Does Family Structure Matter? A Comparison of Childhood Obesity in Single-Father Families and Other Family Types

Jennifer A. Turchi, University of Iowa
Mary C. Noonan, University of Iowa

Children who live in two-parent families are less likely to be obese than children who live in single-parent families. Prior research on the relationship between family structure and childhood obesity is limited in its conceptualization of family structure, however, ignoring single fathers or including them in a category with single mothers. Yet the number of single-father families has increased dramatically since the 1980's, and thus warrants study. We use data from the ECLS-K to address three questions: (1) Do differences in the prevalence of obesity among children exist across family structure? (2) Do differences in resources and parenting quality exist across family types? (3) Do differences in parental resources and parenting quality explain differences in childhood obesity among family types? Results from this study will make an important contribution to the literature on the impact of fathering on children’s well-being and the role that family plays in childhood obesity.

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Presented in Session 64: Parental Influences on Childhood Obesity