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Single Fathers Are More Likely to Die Early, Study Says

From TIME - February 14, 2018

A large new study of parents in Canada found that single fathers have a higher premature mortality rate than single mothers or parents who are paired up. The study tracked more than 40,000 people for 11 years and found that single dads died soonest, and also had the least healthy lifestyles.

The study, which was published in The Lancet Public Health, could not ascertain what made single dads die sooner, but after adjusting for age, lifestyle, health and socio-demographic characteristics, their risk of death over the course of the study was more than twice as high as other parents.

The researchers found that single fathers were less likely to eat fruits and vegetables and more likely to binge drink than other types of parents. They were also more likely to have cardiovascular disease or cancer when the study started.

Our study does not identify the exact cause of [the early death], said lead author Maria Chiu, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Canada, in a statement. We did find that single fathers also tend to have unhealthier lifestyles, which could be an important area to address to improve health in this high-risk group.

While many more single mothers than fathers lead households in the U.S. and elsewhere, about 8% of American homes were headed up by single fathers in 2013, according to figures from the Pew Research Center. In 2011, that represented 2.6 million households. The proportion in the U.K. is similar, with an estimated 10% of all single parent homes being overseen by a father.

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