width=200A report published in the International Journal of Obesity, based on data from 12,000 children, found that kids who are looked after by their grandparents are more likely to be overweight than kids cared for by childminders or parents.

The study, led by Professor Catherine Law from University College London, used data from the Millennium Cohort Study, which collected data on the health of children born between 2000 and 2001, when they were aged between nine months and three years old.

Researchers discovered that, compared with kids cared for solely by their parents, kids looked after by grandparents part-time, were 15% more likely to be overweight. When grandparents were full-time carers, the chance of a child being overweight went up by 34%.

This increased risk of a child becoming overweight applied in the higher-income groups, which may be because lower-income children are already more likely to be overweight, than those from higher-income families.

The study did not examine why these kids were getting fatter, but possibilities include:

  • Grandparents may be more indulgent, perhaps using candy as a reward for good behavior.
  • Older carers may lack the energy and fitness to be physically active with children.
  • Parents may be better educated about healthy eating than grandparents.

The effect was similar for other informal carers, usually relatives, however grandparents made up the majority of this group.

What's your take on this one? Do you think grandparents are more likely to spoil children by allowing them to eat junk and sit in front of the television. Or, are there more complex factors at work?