Objectives: Parental incarceration might impact children’s body weight through household financial strain, lack of caregiving, social stigma, and stress. In this study, we systematically reviewed scientific literature linking parental incarceration to body weight status of children and young adults. Methods: A literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, EBSCO, and Cochrane Library for relevant peer-reviewed articles and abstracts. Meta-analysis was conducted to estimate the association between parental incarceration and children’s body weight. Results: Five US-based studies were identified. Three examined children 17 years and younger, and 2 examined adults 18-34 years. After adjusting for individual, family and neighborhood characteristics, 2 reported a negative association, 2 reported a null relationship, and one reported a positive association between parental incarceration and children’s weight. Meta-analysis did not identify an association between parental incarceration and children’s body weight. Conclusion: Evidence linking parental incarceration to children’s body weight remains limited due to the small body of heterogeneous literature and observational design. Future research should assess the impact of parental incarceration on body weight across children’s stage of development, type and duration of incarceration, nature of conviction, population subgroup and geographical region, and elucidate the psychosocial pathways linking parental incarceration to unhealthy body weight.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Social Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health