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Grandma's a great caregiver, but she might be making her grandkids overweight

February 17, 2010 |  2:33 pm

Grandparents are known for doting on their grandkids, but could their care be linked with making children fat?

Ioont7kn A new study in the International Journal of Obesity finds that young children under full-time care of their grandparents may be at a higher risk for being overweight than children who are only looked after by their parents.

The study included 12,354 3-year-olds in Britain who were part of the Millennium Cohort Study, which focused on the health of young children in Britain born between 2000 and 2002. Researchers discovered that by the age of 3, about 25% of the children in the study were in informal child-care and that 75% of informal caregivers were grandparents. A little more than 20% of the children were in formal child-care. By the age of 3, about 25% of children were overweight or obese, and the majority of the study participants were from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Children who were looked after by grandparents part time showed a 15% higher risk of being overweight compared with children who were taken care of only by their parents. Children cared for by grandparents full time had a 34% increased risk of being overweight. Kids in formal child-care or who were cared for only by parents showed no greater tendency to being overweight.

When categorized into various socio-economic backgrounds, a greater risk of being overweight was seen among children who were from more advantaged backgrounds -- they had mothers with managerial or professional jobs and degrees, or lived in a household with two parents.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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