Grandparents help to make children fat

Children looked after by grandparents more likely to be overweight

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Grandparents are well known for spoiling their grandchildren but their generosity could be boosting childhood obesity. Young children who are regularly cared for by their grandparents have an increased risk of being overweight, according to UK research.

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The study of 12,000 3-year-olds found that children were 34% more likely to be overweight for their age if they were looked after by their grandparents full-time. If grandparents only provided part-time care, children still had a 15% higher risk of being overweight.

Children who went to nursery or had a childminder, however, had no increased risk of weight problems, according to the International Journal of Obesity.

Grandparents overindulging their precious charges and lack of exercise were two possible explanations given by the researchers.

“One of the ways forward would be to talk to small groups of grandparents to see the challenges they face,” said study leader Professor Catherine Law. “Some of the things that might help would be educating the population in general about healthy lifestyles but also things like avoiding food as a reward and suggestions for building activities into daily life.”

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