Kids' health put at risk by grandparents

Grandparents are letting children get away with not exercising when they are in charge

Grandparents are letting children get away with not exercising when they are in charge

Grandparents are a potential health hazard for children - and may even increase their risk of cancer, scientists have said.

Grandparents are overfeeding children and letting them get away with not exercising when they are in charge, an overview of 56 studies in 18 countries has concluded.

Poor diet, excess weight, smoking and lack of physical activity are all known to increase the risk of cancer, said the researchers. One British study found that toddlers looked after by grandparents while parents went to work were up to a third more likely to be overweight. The research found "excessive feeding" of children was a significant grandparent problem, as was providing meals made from unhealthy ingredients.

None of the reviewed studies took into account the positive emotional benefit of children spending time with their grandparents, the authors said.

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Lead author Dr Stephanie Chambers said.

"Currently grandparents are not the focus of public health messaging targeted at parents and in light of the evidence from this study, perhaps this is something that needs to change given the prominent role grandparents play in the lives of children".

The phenomenon is coming under increasing scrutiny as social trends - such as the growing proportion of women in the workforce, rising childcare costs, and increasing numbers of single parents - result in more children being placed in the care of their grandparents.

"They bring out the biscuits at the slightest hint of a tantrum and, as the researchers report, they are also often too protective in loco parentis".

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