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Grandparents 'boost obesity risk'

15th February 2010

The results of a UK study involving 12,000 children have shown that if a child is looked after by its grandparents, it is more likely to weigh too much.

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Researchers from University College London said the danger of a child being obese increased by 34% if it was cared for by its grandparents 'full-time'.

The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that if a child attended nursery or was looked after by a childminder there was no raised danger of weight disorders.

Almost one quarter of children under the age of five in the UK are overweight or obese.

The researchers looked at information from the Millennium Cohort Study, which contained data about children's health from the ages of nine months to three years, who were born in the UK during 2000/01.

The information revealed that children looked after by their grandparents on a part-time basis were 15% more likely to be overweight than children cared for by their parents.

Study leader Professor Catherine Law stated that the results of their study suggested that there were two probable reasons why children cared for by their grandparents were overweight, including grandparents indulging their grandchildren and not providing enough physical exercise.

"One of the ways forward would be to talk to small groups of grandparents to see the challenges they face."

"Some of the things that might help would be educating the population in general about healthy lifestyles but also things like avoiding food as a reward and suggestions for building activities into daily life," she added.

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