Kids Who Are Watched by Grandparents Are More Likely to Get Fat

boy eating friesDo your child's grandparents happen to watch him on a regular basis? If so, then you might be setting him up for an unhealthy lifestyle.

A study from Finland was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology and found that kids who are cared for by grandparents are 22 percent more likely to be overweight or obese as opposed to kids who are watched by parents or babysitters. 

Did you hear that? Twenty-two percent! Apparently it's because grandparents can't resist giving kids yummy treats to eat, which stems from a natural instinct to boost their survival chances by feeding them.

Huh. I guess that makes sense.


And I can say first hand that my son gets all sorts of goodies when he's with my mom and dad -- because there's no way either of them could possibly refuse his request for something delicious. You know what else? He totally knows the odds of them saying no to whatever food he asks for are slim to none, which is probably why he can talk either one of them into buying him a Happy Meal on any day of the week.

And since my little guy doesn't have an ounce of fat on him, it doesn't bother me in the least. When I drop him off with my parents, I tell them to give him whatever they want to give him. As long as he eats, I'm really not too concerned about whether or not he splurges a little. (Or even a lot. Yep. I'm that mom.)

But if he did start getting a bit on the chubby side, I'm sure I'd be all sorts of anal about what he eats. I'd probably have a thing or two to say about my mom and dad feeding him sugary and salty snacks or anything that wasn't on the healthy side of the spectrum.

And if you are at all concerned about what your child eats when his grandparents are taking care of him, there are a few things you can do to make sure he eats healthfully when you aren't around so your kid doesn't wind up being part of the 22 percent statistic.

  1. Stock their pantry and fridge -- Chances are that grandparents will feed kids whatever is on hand. If you're really concerned about what they're eating, make sure to regularly bring over plenty of healthy choices that are easy to grab so they don't have to think about whether they are adhering to your wishes.
  2. Set some guidelines -- If you know your kid is going to try and sweet talk grandma into going through the drive-through a few times a week, tell her she's allowed -- but only once as a treat or something like that. If you let her spoil him a little without going overboard, everyone winds up happy.
  3. Have a heart-to-heart -- Grandparents want to feel respected and appreciated, so instead of getting all upset with them for feeding your kids junk food, sit them down and calmly explain that sticking to a healthy diet is important to you, and state your reasons why. If they hear it from a positive angle, they're much more likely to remember the conversation down the road and stick to your request.
  4. Pack your kid's dinner -- You pack him a lunch for school, right? If grandma and grandpa are babysitting one night during the week, bring him a bagged dinner instead of forcing them to figure out what to feed him. Either that, or bring over a healthy dish they can all enjoy together. They'll appreciate the fact that you were thoughtful enough to bring the meal and forget all about you being concerned with what they feed your kid.
  5. Educate your child -- If you want your kid to make healthy choices, you have to teach him the difference between good foods and "bad" foods. If he knows what he can and cannot eat, he can instruct and guide grandma so the guesswork isn't left up to her.

Do your parents or in-laws watch your kids a lot? Do you ever worry about what they feed them?


Image via Mary Fischer

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