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Children Raised by Grandparents Are At a Higher Risk of Obesity

Update Date: Jul 01, 2013 12:39 PM EDT

With more parents working due to financial means or personal preferences, more children are being raised or babysat by their grandparents. Since grandparents might not be as stern or strict as parents are, children are being raised with a little bit more freedom as to what they can and cannot do. In a new study, researchers analyzed the effects of being raised by grandparents on one's weight. The researchers from Finland found that children who are frequently watched after by their grandparents are 22 percent more likely to be obese or overweight.

The researchers followed 9,000 families from the United Kingdom for more than two years. Each family had at least one child who was between the ages of ninth months and three-years-old. This study evaluated and compared children's weights, taking into account childcare management and family history. They discovered that children who were supervised by their doting grandparents were more likely to be overweight when compared to children who were watched by their own parents or by friends and neighbors. Around 26.2 percent of children raised by grandparents were obese, where as only 22.9 percent of children raised by their parents were overweight.

"Results show that children who were cared for mainly by their grandmothers between the ages of nine months and three years were more likely overweight at the age of three than children who were cared for by their parents," researcher, Dr. Antti Tanskanen from the University of Helsinki said according to Daily Mail. He reasoned that grandparents' drive to overfeed children could be linked to survival rates. "A significant way that grandmothers may have increased their grandchildren's survival rates in pre-modern and traditional populations was to improve grandchildren's nutritional status."

The researchers theorized that grandparents are more likely to overfeed their grandchildren to promote growth. On top of that, grandparents might more likely let their grandchildren snack on fatty foods, such as ice cream and cake. Grandparents, due to their age, are also less likely to be aware of nutritional values, such as calorie and fat counts.

These findings suggest that measures should be taken because obesity is a growing problem in the global world. Obesity can lead to several health complications and being obese at such a young age can be extremely detrimental for the children.

The study was published in Evolutionary Psychology.

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