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New Research Finds Single Dads Are Living Shorter Lives Than Other Parents

Single dads were found to have a significantly higher mortality rate than any other parenting group.


New research from the University of Toronto has found that single dads have a noticeably shorter lifespan than other parents. According to the report, over the course of a given decade, six out of every 100 single dads will likely die versus two single moms, two married or partnered dads and one married or partnered mom out of every 100 parents from each group.

“We found that single fathers had a threefold higher mortality compared to single moms and partnered dads, and a fivefold higher mortality compared to partnered moms,” explained lead researcher Maria Chiu, a scientist with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Services at the University of Toronto.

For their research, Chiu and her team gathered data on approximately 40,500 people who had participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey, which is a long-term research effort. The participants included 871 single fathers, 4,590 single mothers, 16,341 partnered fathers and 18,688 partnered mothers. Average age of the participants fell between 41 and 46 years at the time of the survey. Participants in the survey were asked to fill out information about their life, including economic status, personal health, and general lifestyle. To track the participants’ history of health, researchers also looked up their health records.

After 11 years of following up, the Canadian Community Health Survey showed that 693 participants had died. Chiu and her colleagues found that while single dads were a relatively small group, they were the most likely to die over that period of time.

What is the cause of single dads heading to an earlier grave? The research team from the University of Toronto noted that most signs pointed to poor health. Single dads began the health survey with significant health disadvantages, including “a higher prevalence of cancer and heart disease.” They were also more likely to have been taken to the hospital or emergency room than partnered dads.

Additionally, single dads were found to be living less healthy lifestyles than other parents. On average, single dads ate less fruits and vegetables than other parents and were more likely to binge drink, all of which can combine to put someone at serious risk of a major health scare.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Chiu stated that much of these problems stem from that fact that, unlike moms, single dads harbor an inability to seek out friends, groups, and activities that contribute to healthy lifestyles.

“On average, women are more likely to seek social support, whereas for the dads there are either real or perceived barriers,” Chiu said. “(Women are) more likely to engage in these social and community groups that are protective of their health.”