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Do Grandparents Make Kids Fat?!

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Many parents rely on their parents to furnish them with the ideal childcare solution. But a recent, extensive British study suggests that the risk of your child becoming obese climbs a whopping 34 percent when Grandma or Grandpa is in charge full-time.


Mind you, almost 25 percent of preschool children in the UK are considered overweight or obese. And interestingly enough, the International Journal of Obesity showed no marked increase among kids with babysitters or kids who go to daycare.

Using information from the Millennium Cohort Study, which examined the health of kids between 9 months and 3 years of age born in the UK between 2000 and 2001, researchers noticed that "those looked after by grandparents part-time had a 15 percent higher risk of being overweight for their age compared with those solely looked after by their parents. Those who were cared for by their grandparents full-time had a 34 percent increased risk of being overweight."

This University College of London team also considered the children's socioeconomic backgrounds. Turns out the obesity risk was "only apparent in children from the most advantaged group" (whose mothers had managerial or professional jobs, degrees, or lived with their partners). The risk of obesity was also found in conjunction with "other informal care provided by relatives or friends, but only if that was full-time."

What's the fix? The research team recommended furnishing Grandma and Grandpa with tons of information about diet and exercise.

"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," said one of the study leaders.

After 2011, grandparents in the UK will begin to receive National Insurance credits as an added incentive to look after grandchildren under age 13 for at least 20 hours a week.

Whoa! That's impressive! Why don't we Americans take a tip from our Brit buddies? I bet that kind of incentive would inspire more grandparents to actually hang out and enjoy their grandkids in lieu of fleeing the scene in their RVs.

What do you guys think?

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
mollysmom February 16, 2010, 1:16 PM

this is a sore subject for me and my husband. he was the fat kid from birth until high school. when my daughter goes to his parents house it’s nothing but JUNK. his mom says “oh it’s ok, it’s LITE BOLOGNA”!! SERIOUSLY??? i’ve spoken to them so many times and it just goes in one ear and out the other, i don’t even try anymore, all i can do is give her good food at home because they WILL NOT CHANGE :(

Anonymous February 16, 2010, 3:24 PM

Be happy she’s at least watching your kid.

Lisa February 16, 2010, 6:37 PM

The opposite is true in my family: my parents eat healthier than I do! I never worry about what my daughter eats when she’s with them.

Tracy February 23, 2010, 10:00 AM

Mollysmom - I’m in the same situation, we joke (sarcasm) that my in-laws stuff my daughter like a Thanksgiving Turkey. At 14 she is now 200 lbs and addicted to junkfood. I’m now separated from her father and even though the in-laws want to continue to have a relationship with me I’ve decided that some distance from them is just what the doctor ordered.

Pharme331 May 9, 2010, 9:30 AM

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