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Single Dad, Shorter Life? Scary New Study Findings

Single Dad, Shorter Life? Scary New Study Findings

Solo dads are doubly likely to die prematurely, says a large new Canadian study.

No one ever sad that being a solo parent is easy. But there’s new evidence it may be especially harmful to guys. A new study out of Canada has found that single dads are twice as likely to die earlier than other parents.

The study, which was conducted over a period of 11 years and published in The Lancet Public Health journal, tracked the health and longevity of more than 40,000 participants.

By the study’s conclusion, 693 people had died. Deaths among the single fathers numbered 5.8 per 1,000, while deaths among partnered fathers were 1.9 per 1000. The single-mother death rate was 1.7 per 1,000, while partnered mothers were the least likely to have died, at a rate of just 1.2 per 1,000.

At the study’s baseline, single fathers were older, had a greater incidence of cancer than single mothers and partnered parents, and were more likely to have cardiovascular disease than single and partnered mothers. Compared to partnered fathers, they were also more likely to have visited an emergency room or been admitted to a hospital in the prior year.

Yet even adjusting the findings to consider these factors, single fathers’ mortality risk over 11 years was more than two times higher than other parents’.

Unhealthy Choices, Unreliable Support

Why the big difference? It’s unclear, though the researchers found that single dads were more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles. Among other things, they ate fewer fruits and vegetables, and were more likely to engage in binge drinking than partnered parents and single mothers.

The study’s authors also suggest that single dads may be less likely to have social networks, social assistance, and child support, which in turn may cause them greater stress.

Single-parent families are becoming more common worldwide due to increased rates of divorce, separations, and out-of-wedlock childbirth. In 2011, more than 2.6 million families in the United States were headed by single fathers.

Related links: What Single Mothers Can Learn From Four Great Movie Moms

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Deborah Skolnik

Author: Deborah Skolnik, a graduate of Cornell University, lives in Westchester with her husband and two daughters, and enjoys writing, cooking, and gardening. See More

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