Does single fatherhood mean a higher chance of premature death? A new Canadian study reveals that single fathers in the country adopt worse eating and drinking habits than traditional family arrangements, leading to a higher risk dying early.
The study, which was published in The Lancet Public Health journal, looked at over 40,000 parents over an 11-year period and found that the risk of premature death for single fathers was twice higher than that of other parents.
"It's a startlingly high mortality," says Maria Chiu, the study's lead author. "They were three times higher than single moms and partnered fathers, and five times higher than partnered moms."
In addition to poorer living habits, single fathers were found to have higher risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular conditions. The compounded stress of working jobs and spending time with their children often leads single fathers to forget to take care of themselves. Many of them drink more, eat fewer fruits and vegetables and do not exercise regularly.
They also have less social support than partnered fathers, which according to Dr. Rachel Simpson of the University of Oxford, is "a plausable explanation for the increased risk of mortality."
There are over 333,000 single fathers in Canada possessing one or more children under 25 years old.