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Divorce, Nutrition, and Preventing Child Obesity

On Behalf of the Law Office of Yvette P. Fallon, June 12th, 2014 at 9:42 am

Researchers in Norway have discovered a trend: children of divorced parents are more likely to be overweight or obese than children of married parents are.  The study, conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and Norway’s Morbid Obesity Center, shows that Norwegian children of divorced parents are 54% more likely than children of married parents are to be overweight or obese.

In conducting the study, doctoral candidate Anna Biehl sampled 3,100 third-grade children.  The study divided the children into groups based upon family structure: the children were categorized as either of divorced parents, married parents, or parents who were never married.

After calculating obesity indicators such as body mass index and ratio between height and waist size, Biehl and her colleagues discovered that children of divorced parents have a significantly greater chance of being overweight or obese than children of either divorced parents or parents who were never married.  Interestingly, the difference between children of married parents and the children of parents who were never married is insignificant.

The study also suggests that sons are more vulnerable than daughters are to weight gain after a divorce.  While girls of divorced parents were 34% more likely to be overweight or obese than girls from other family structures were, boys of divorced parents were 63% more likely to be overweight or obese than boys of other family structures were.

Biehl “cautioned that ‘the results do not say that divorce causes weight gain in children.’”  Although the study certainly shows a trend between divorce and child weight gain, it does not necessarily establish a causal relationship between the two.

Still, knowing about the potential impact of family structure on child weight gain is important in a time when industrialized nations are seeing weight gain in children.

In America, the Obama administration has focused on preventing child and subsequently adult obesity.  First Lady Michelle Obama launched an initiative called Let’s Move in 2010.  The initiative focuses on child health, healthy food in schools, and increased physical activity for children.

Recently, the First Lady clashed with the House of Representatives.  Although Congress is considering passing a bill requiring minimum nutrition in school lunches, the House proposed to amend the bill so that schools may delay meeting those requirements.  Although the Senate has not proposed such an amendment, the two houses will need to negotiate in order to pass the legislation at all.  The First Lady has openly criticized the proposed House amendment.

With the knowledge that child obesity is an American epidemic, will Congress react and legislate to prevent it?  Does divorce really cause child obesity?  Given the need for a healthier population and the new data about child obesity, how should Congress address the issue?

Sources: Fox News, “Children of divorce may be more likely to be overweight,” June 5, 2014; CNN, “Setback for first lady in food fight with Congress,” May 29, 2014; BMJ Open, “Parental marital status and childhood overweight and obesity in Norway: a nationally representative cross-sectional study,” June 4, 2014; The White House, “First Lady Michelle Obama Launches Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids,” February 9, 2010.


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Combative Custody Disputes and the Potential for Parental Abduction

On Behalf of the Law Office of Yvette P. Fallon, June 10th, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Parents in combative custody disputes often worry: will the contentious or unstable spouse act out against the child’s or children’s welfare?

Recently, father Jason Lewis and mother Jackie Morris resolved a child custody case in the Rockville Superior Court of Connecticut.  The Court established joint custody in which the children lived with Lewis and Morris had visitation rights.  Lewis’s lawyer described the custody case as “‘slightly contentious.’”

After a weekend visit in May, Morris did not return the children to Lewis.  Lewis reported the disappearance of the three boys, 9-year-old Ryan and 7-year-old twins Dylan and Brendan, on Monday, May 12.

Police issued a multistate Amber Alert regarding the missing boys early Tuesday morning.  Later that day, authorities found Morris and the boys in a Maine motel and returned the boys to Lewis.

As of Tuesday, May 13, police took Morris into custody but were still determining whether to press criminal charges.  According to family, Morris has a history of mental illness.

The worry that a contentious spouse may act out against the child or children in a custody case is justified, particularly if the spouse is unstable or mentally ill.

Should authorities press criminal charges against Morris and others who illegally take their children beyond the legal capacity of their visitation rights?  Further, should unstable parents like Morris be allowed visitation rights?

Be sure to talk to your lawyer about similar worries and the reasons for them in order to prevent an unfortunate occurrence like this one.

Source: Boston Herald, “3 Connecticut children, mother found safe in Maine,” May 13, 2014.