Kind grand­par­ents ‘put chil­dren’s health at risk’

Daily Express - - DAY & NIGHT - By Anil Dawar

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.

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