Study explores whether children consume more soda post-divorce

In the wake of a divorce, many parents will pay extra attention to the feelings and general emotional state of their children, understanding just how painful and difficult the process can prove to be.

Interestingly enough, a recently released study suggests that parents may also want to start showing greater vigilance when it comes to their child’s general physical state, paying extra attention to the types of drinks they are consuming.

Researchers at San Francisco State University asked both parents and children in households where the parents were married, divorced or separated to keep journals outlining what they ate or drank over a five-day period.

Here, they discovered that the children in divorced or separated households were far more likely to consume sodas, energy drinks and other sweetened beverages.

While the study stopped short of pinpointing an exact cause for this phenomenon, the researchers did find that family routines played a significant role. For example, children in divorced or separated households were found to consume less of these beverages when there were firmly entrenched family routines, such as sitting down to eat dinner every night.

It is worth noting that they also theorized that children in divorced or separated homes may gravitate toward sugary drinks given their accessibility and stress-alleviating properties.

“The brain reacts with a great deal of enjoyment when we have a soda or energy drink,” said the lead researcher. “It also doesn’t involve much thinking, except for the decision to purchase them or bring them into the house.”

While you may question the significance of these findings, consider that statistics show that over one million children here in the U.S. see their lives touched by divorce every year and that childhood obesity can have an impact on health later in life.

What are your thoughts on this study? If you are divorced, did you find that you had to monitor your child’s soda intake or other eating habits?

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, “Divorce may mean kids down more soft drinks,” March 10, 2015

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