Obesity risk to children cared for by grandparents

Tuesday 16th February, 2010

Children who are regularly cared for by their grandparents have an increased risk of becoming obese, according to a British research team.

A study of 12,000 three-year olds suggested a 34 per cent higher risk of being overweight when grandparents were involved with care full-time.

The report, which was published in the International Journal of Obesity, went on to state that children who attended nursery or had a child minder had no increase risk of weight problems.

Researchers from the University College London looked at the health of children aged nine months to three years-old and born between 2000 to 2001.

Part-time care given by grandparents had a 15 per cent higher risk of the child becoming overweight for their age compared to those who were cared for by parents alone.

Also taken into account was the child’s socio-economic background. A increased risk was only apparent in children whose mothers were in professional or managerial positions, had graduated with a degree, or lived with their partner.

Researchers said that care provided by grandparents was still the best alternative to full-time parent care and the issue was about a lack of information available to carers on the importance of diet and exercise.

“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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