New research finds that children of divorced or recently separated parents are consuming more soft drinks as they seek comfort in their changing home situation.
In a recent study, researchers asked children to keep a food diary for five days describing their eating and drinking habits. After the five days, the data showed children of divorced or separated parents were much more likely to drink sugar sweetened soft drinks like soda.
“When families separate, one of the things that is most impacted for kids is their day-to-day routines,” says Jeff Cookston, lead researcher from San Francisco State University, in a news release. “Children are looking for consistency in their family environment, and family routines provide that security and continuity.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that childhood obesity has more than doubled for children in the past 30 years, and can increase a child’s chance for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis.
Dr. Michael Fell, pediatrician on staff at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill., says children might turn to soda for comfort since it’s not only easily accessible, but it can make them feel better and comforted. However, “parents should try to provide some oversight on what their children are consuming and focus on providing a comforting environment for their children during these family changes,” he says.
One 12-ounce can of soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar, which when consumed in excess, can have detrimental health effects on children.
“Divorce is not only difficult for the two adults involved, but we must not forget the impact it has on the lives of our children especially their day to day routines,” says Dr. Fell. “The study found that if children of families who are divorced or separated maintained routines such as eating dinner together, they were more likely to not turn to sugary drinks.
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital
450 Illinois 22, Barrington, IL 60010