Children raised by grandparents are more likely to be overweight

Children raised by grandparents are more likely to be overweight

That's according to a systematic review and meta-analysis of 23 studies conducted in the United States and eight other countries by a team of researchers in the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

The review found that children who were cared for by grandparents had nearly 30% higher risks for being overweight or obese.

The findings don't stop there though. Children with normal-weight parents and obese grandparents had twice the risk of being overweight themselves than children with normal-weight parents and normal-weight grandparents, suggesting that grandparents had an influence on child weight status distinct from parental influence. 

The fact that grandparents now have an increased life expectancy, and the fact that there has been a rise in single-parent households and working moms, has led to an increase in the number of grandparents who provide extensive child care to their grandchildren. Today's grandparents are more than occasional visitors and gift bearers; they play an essential role in raising the next generation.

On an interview with HealthDaily,  An, one of the authors pointed out that the notion of 'the bigger the healthier' is still relevant. Some grandparents may urge their grandkids to eat bigger and more frequent meals, and will offer sweets and fried foods as a way to show love, while in some cultures grandparents may also be more likely to excuse children from doing household chores, a key form of physical activity. 

"Affluence and being well fed is valued and desirable to many grandparents as they had experienced hunger and poverty in their youth, which they may pass on to their grandchildren, who, to the opposite, are fighting against a world of food swamps and ever-expanding portion sizes," An said.

You can find the whole study here: Influence of Grandparental Child Care on Childhood Obesity:A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Childhood Obesity 2020 16:3, 141-153