Kind grandparents ‘put children’s health at risk’
INDULGENT grandparents are storing up serious health problems for children in later life by being too kind, a study said yesterday.
Showering youngsters with sweets and serving up their favourite fatty meals raises the risk of killer diseases in adulthood.
Smoking around children and failing to make sure they take exercise also increases the danger of cancer and obesity.
A study highlighted the hidden risk grandparents are posing as they increasingly share the burden of child care with parents.
Public health experts from the University of Glasgow reviewed 56 studies covering 18 countries aimed at identifying any potential influence grandparents’ habits may have on cancer risk factors.
It found they were inadvertently having an adverse impact by “treating”, overfeeding and allowing a lack of physical activity.
Cigarettes also had a negative effect, not only because of exposure to second-hand smoke but by encouraging copycat behaviour.
Study leader Dr Stephanie Chambers said it was clear grandparents’ impact was unintentional, but added: “Currently they are not the focus of public health messaging targeted at parents. Perhaps that needs to change, given the prominent role grandparents play in the lives of children.”
Previous research has focused on the effect parents’ behaviour has on their offspring. But more women working, childcare costs and marriage break-ups have led to a huge increase in grandparents becoming part-time carers.
Professor Linda Bauld of Cancer Research UK said it was vital for children to stay a healthy weight and not be exposed to smoke.
The findings are published in the science journal PLOS ONE.