Grandparents ‘a child health risk’
Grandparents are a potential health hazard for children and may even increase their risk of cancer, say scientists.
They spoil their grandchildren with sweet “treats” and big helpings of fattening food, and expose their young lungs to secondhand tobacco smoke, it is alleged. The extraordinary claims are based on a review of research into the influence grandparents have on lifestyle factors.
Lead author Dr Stephanie Chambers, of the University of Glasgow’ said: “While the results of this review are clear that behaviour such as exposure to smoking and regularly treating children increases cancer risks as children grow into adulthood, it is also clear from the evidence that these risks are unintentional.”
Previous research has looked at the way parents can affect their children’s susceptibility to cancer and other diseases, but less at- tention has been paid to the role of part-time carers such as grandparents, said the scientists.
The Glasgow team analysed data from 56 studies from 18 countries that included information about the influence of grandparents on their grandchildren. Overall, grandparents were found to have an adverse effect
“It is also clear from evidence that risks are unintentional”
– despite meaning well. In many cases, such as rewarding good behaviour with sweets, they were putting the health of their grandchildren at risk with kindness. To some extent, the negative impact on diet and weight was balanced by a more positive finding with respect to physical activity, the scientists found.
None of the studies took account of the positive emotional benefit of children spending time with their grandparents.