Grandparents giving children treats are shortening lives


Grandparents may think they are being kind when they bring out the biscuit tin or serve up second helpings of a hearty home-cooked meal.

Chances are their grandchildren will also love them for the extra treats when they visit.

But spoiling the younger generation may not be doing them any good, according to academics.

Grandparents may be going a bit overboard, as children looked after by their grandparents were found to be more overweight.

A study of more than 15,000 children aged three found those most often looked after by their maternal grandmother were 20 per cent more likely to be on the chubby side.

An academic review of 56 studies suggests that when the older generation ‘demonstrate their love’ with goodies and extra portions, grandchildren’s health may be suffering.

Grandchildren more often looked after by maternal grandmother 20% more likely to be chubby (stock photo)

Grandchildren more often looked after by maternal grandmother 20% more likely to be chubby (stock photo)

The review, led by the University of Glasgow, says: ‘For weight-related studies, grandparents were characterised by parents as indulgent, misinformed and as using food as an emotional tool within their relationships with grandchildren.’

However, it was not all bad news.

The authors found evidence of grandparents’ ‘significant’ role in supporting their grandchildren and improving their emotional wellbeing.

Grandparents are increasingly involved in children’s lives as more women choose to work and the cost of childcare rises.

Key findings 

The review, published in the journal PLOS One, looked at studies across 18 countries.

It found parents believed grandparents fed their children food too high in sugar and fat.


Junk food adverts shown during family television shows like the X Factor could be tempting children to eat extra calories.

Research suggests teenagers consume an additional 270 calories a week for every advert for unhealthy food or drink they remembered seeing on television, above a weekly average of six junk food adverts.

The additional calories are the equivalent to eating an extra two packets of crisps

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