In light of dramatic changes in American family demography in recent decades, there is a growing recognition that family structure is one of a host of important social factors contributing to children’s health and well-being. The article by Augustine and Kimbro contributes to a growing body of research linking children’s family structure and health outcomes, focusing specifically on the association between family living arrangements and children’s risk of obesity. Their analyses are especially helpful in suggesting that family scholars should pay more attention to potential heterogeneity in relationships between family structure and children’s outcomes.

Key Take Away Points

  • Previous research suggests the importance of recent changes in family demography for children's outcomes in the United States.
  • Social factors, such as family structure and instability, can have important consequences for children's health and well-being.
  • Family scholars should pay more attention to potential differences in the consequences of family structure for child well-being based on child and family-level characteristics.
  • The Augustine and Kimbro article suggests that family structure should be considered as a potential contributor to childhood obesity in the United states, and that socioeconomic status may moderate the relationship between family structure and childhood obesity.

Author Biography

Sharon Bzostek, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She also serves as a Research Associate at the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing at Princeton University. Professor Bzostek received her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University in 2009, and from 2009-2011 was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University. She is a sociologist and social demographer particularly interested in recent changes in family demography and their consequences for child and family well-being, as well as social disparities in health and health care. Her current research includes projects related to mothers’ re-partnering after a non-marital birth, better understanding survey respondents’ self-rated health status, the consequences of familial instability for children’s health, and the effects of mixed health insurance coverage within families on children’s health care access and utilization. Her research has appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals, including Social Forces, Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Science and Medicine, and Health Affairs.



A Response To:

Family Structure and Obesity Among U.S. Children by Jennifer M. Augustine Ph.D. and Rachel T. Kimbro.