A world-wide study on childhood obesity done in 2020 found some alarming statistics. It found that those children in the care of their grandparents, either full or part-time had elevated risks of childhood obesity.
Wow. How can that be?
Before we become too concerned, this study found that there is only a thirty percent increased risk of grandchildren becoming obese under the care of their grandparents, but it’s still a topic of concern and one we should study further.
We know that childhood obesity is usually an product of a combination of genetic predispositions, levels of physical activity and diet. We can’t control our genetics, but we can be proactive in activity levels and the food we ingest.
We also know that children who suffer with childhood obesity are at risk for both social and psychological problems such as bullying by others and low self-esteem. We don’t want to contribute to any social or emotional trauma for our grandkids.
So, it’s important for us to examine our behavior when we spend time with them and be sure we’re bringing positive things into their lives, not contributing to potential problems.
What We Should Do
As much as we want to indulge our grandchildren, we need to avoid causing problems for their over-all well-being. This doesn’t mean that we can never take them for ice cream or bake them cookies, but it does mean that we need to monitor the number of times we give them sweets.
We can also look for alternative ways to show our love. Healthier recipes is one way to solve the problem. Allowing children to eat small portions and not urge them to overeat is another. We can also encourage non-food activities such as playing board games, watching a great movie together or taking them on nature hikes.
What We Shouldn’t Do
If you grew up in a home where you had to “clean your plate” you will have an aversion to wasting food. But it may be better to save an uneaten portion of a meal or even throw it away rather than encouraging children to eat more than they want. Portion sizes in restaurants are approximately twice the size they used to be in the seventies and eighties. We’re used to eating too much and that isn’t good for our grandkids.
So, we can encourage them to take small portions and finish them, but not to over-indulge. In some cultures, the term “healthy” means being plump. But we know that doctors don’t agree. Being overweight as a child can begin a lifetime of struggling with obesity. We need to limit the times we give our grandchildren sugary treats and not encourage them to overeat.
If our grandchildren are already obese it’s important not to make that the focal point of the relationship. Work as a team with the parents and other relatives to help the overweight child work through the problem in a positive, healthy way. Too many reminders of the problem or any disapproving attitudes will surely filter down to the child and make the problem worse.
We all want our grandkids to be happy and healthy. We can do our part to be aware of childhood obesity and its dangers and be sure we aren’t contributing to the problem. We an also be proactive in helping our grandkids stay active and help them maintain a healthy diet.
Influence of Grandparental Child Care on Childhood Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, from Childhood Obesity, April 2020, volume 16 No. 3, compiled by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.