Many factors in the home can contribute to childhood obesity, study finds

August 29, 2019

Research from Rollins School of Public Health identified how different family structures may contribute to childhood obesity and excess weight gain in youth. The findings were recently published in PLOS ONE.  

Solveig A. Cunningham, associate professor in Rollins School of Public Health, is first author of the paper. Cunningham and colleagues used data from 6,700 children to determine which factors in the home correlate with child obesity.

To the authors’ surprise, children living in households with two parents rather than one parent did not experience advantages in terms of excess weight gain. However, children living with a grandmother gained more weight than children not living with a grandmother, and children living with siblings and non-related adults gained less weight.

“These findings corroborate a scenario in which, for health problems associated with caloric surplus, classic household factors have more complex associations with child wellbeing,” the authors note.

Senior author of the paper is Kathryn M. Yount, PhD, professor of global health in Rollins School of Public Health.

Other contributors include Eeshwar K. Chandrasekar, student in Emory University School of Medicine and Kate Cartwright from the University of New Mexico’s School of Public Administration.