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Parents must consider health effects of living arrangements

When a Texas family is going through divorce, a great deal of time and effort is put into minimizing the negative impacts for shared children. A recent study looked into the eating habits of children within a recently divorced family as opposed to those living with both parents. What emerged was evidence to suggest that kids whose parents were divorcing or recently divorced were more likely to consume sugary beverages than those who lived with both parents. These findings underscore the importance of ensuring that the post-divorce living arrangements meet the needs of both parents and children.

The issue is an important one, as an estimated 34 percent of the nation's children between the ages of six and 11 are overweight. Kids who struggle with their weight during childhood are at a high risk for adulthood obesity. One of the best ways to protect against this outcome is to establish and support healthy eating and drinking habits throughout childhood, especially during and immediately after a divorce.

Divorce and the resulting disruption of routine can be difficult for kids. The response is often an increase in the consumption of sugary drinks, which are known to provide a rapid and pleasurable response within the brain. There are several ways to ensure that kids don't consume significant volumes of sweetened beverages. One is to simply refrain from purchasing these drinks, which makes them unavailable within the family home. Another is to place restrictions on the types of drinks that children are allowed to choose when outside of the home.

Maintaining healthy eating and drinking habits is far easier when both parents are on the same page about the issue. For Texas spouses who divorce, it is important to sit down and discuss how to implement positive dietary habits across both households, no matter how the living arrangements are structured within the divorce. Not only will such a plan keep kids healthy, but it also provides an additional level of consistency within the co-parenting structure, which helps maintain a sense of stability during what can be a difficult period of transition. When those goals cannot be agreed upon, help is available to consider available legal options.

Source: universityherald.com, "Divorce May Fuel Sugary Beverage Consumption", March 3, 2015

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