Higher Obesity Risk for Children Watched by Grandparents

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Teens, Development/Milestones: Babies


As busy working parents with two young children, my wife and I have often considered leaving our kids with their grandparents instead of daycare. When they were really young, it seemed like the rational choice. Our kids would be supervised by loving family members, we would save a lot of money and the time restrictions of daycare would no longer apply.


To the Grandchildren Go the Spoils

After a test run with my in-laws, my wife and I quickly realized the potential perils of this decision. All of our hard work in creating healthier eating habits, sleeping patterns and developing our kids' social acumen (such as using their manners) went out the window. Within a week, our kids transformed into everything we had worked against. The money saved quickly had no meaning.

Obesity Higher in Children under Grandparents' Care

'The Journal of Obesity' recently reported that young children who are regularly cared for by their grandparents are at a greater risk of becoming overweight. The study looked at 12,000 three-year-olds and analyzed their lifestyle behaviours. The researchers found that children cared for by their grandparents full-time had a 34 per cent increased risk of becoming overweight. For kids cared for by their grandparents on a part-time basis, the increased risk was 15 per cent. Overall, the higher risk was directly related to financial status. In support of their hypothesis, the researchers also found that young children who had nannies or went daycare did not have an increased risk of becoming overweight.

The reason for these results is not yet clearly defined, but common sense says that kids under their grandparents care are spoiled with sugary treats and may not play as often, or for as long, as kids at daycare. Once again, daily physical activity plays an integral role in raising a healthy child.

Final Thoughts

Many young parents often neglect to look at the grandparent child-rearing situation from a grandparent's perspective. Very few grandparents have the energy and patience to look after young children for an entire day, five days a week. It's hard enough for us parents to do this, so why should we assume our elderly parents can handle it? In the end, it's better for everyone to let their children be active and interact with other children, the sort of situation that daycare provides. The social development benefits are immeasurable. So, let grandparents enjoy their freedom and fulfill the ultimate grandparent joy - spoiling their grandchildren whenever they visit.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.