Are we over-spoiling our grandkids? A startling wake-up call for every grandparent… 36



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As grandparents, we can have an incredibly healthy influence on our grandkids’ lives. We give it our all. Who among us wouldn’t want to maximise that quality time by giving them an experience to remember?

But now there’s a compelling reason to suspect that some of us, sometimes, may be overdoing it. While the recommendations seem harsh, the evidence is hard to ignore: we could be inadvertently making our grandchildren fat.

Multiple studies are showing a disturbing link between the time a child spends with their grandparents and the chances of developing obesity.

According to the BBC, children who are regularly looked after by their grandparents could be 15% likelier to be overweight for their age; 34% if the grandparents are their main full-time carers. Further research in Finland in China has since backed up the idea.

Unsurprisingly, the problem seems to stem from those “occasional treats” many grandparents keep handy: the ice cream, soft drinks and other indulgences that can make the visit that little bit more special. The more frequent the visits, the more these treats will impact the kids’ long-term nutritional needs.

How can we work around it?

If you believe this could be a problem, About Parenting has one very strong recommendation: substitute one indulgence for another. Find a non-food related way to tell the grandkids that their visits are something special and fun; greet them with a game, activity or lively ritual.

Researchers also recommend coordinating with the parents, ensuring your grandkids’ diet is consistent with what they get at home, and that the sweeter indulgences they get don’t overlap with similar treats at home.

It’s not all bad news and finger pointing, though: another study shows that ongoing emotional support from grandparents helped families make better food choices, and therefore lowered the risk of child obesity.

A loving grandparent can be one of the healthiest things in a child’s life. Findings like this are simply a reminder to show that love in the right ways.

Do you feel like you’re keeping your grandchildren happy and healthy? Is it fair to suggest grandparents are responsible for obesity risk?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. As obese grandparents who have never succeeded to tame our weight despite valiant effort over the years, we will be very mindful of this when our future grandchildren visit. The greatest gift is love and it is not love to feed their little bodies unhealthy food. A mango cheek is a great treat. Doesnt need hard sell either!!

    1 REPLY
    • it definitely is not too much.. carbohydrates or sugars are baddies then big hereditary influence.
      Try to stop pasta bread of any sort and use no more than 2 teaspoon of rice bran margarine per day for just 2 weeks!
      Lots of greens for 2 days out of 7 to clear liver from toxins.
      ( all green alkaline detox meal: smashed mint peas, green shoots, bean shoots , aspagras, lettuce with vinaigrette.
      Stay close to loo the next day.
      More protein and salad.

  2. No I don’t think I spoil my grandkids I don’t see them that often so if I want to give them that’s I do that’s me

  3. Yes we are!! Our children are spoiled! when they are adults, they will have these expectations… 🙁 Most have things, before healthy relationships. It shows in our culture and society:(

  4. My mother buys lots of treats for her younger grandchildren who come to her place after school. It concerns me how much sugar is involved. It seems like she wants to buy their affection and ensure they want to be there with food. Wevy tried to talk to her about buying healthy snacks but it doesn’t seem to sink in. Recently she has made a box of colouring in stuff which is good but its a battle for her to wrap her head around. I wouldn’t say they hzve an obesity problem but all that unhealthy food has to have some negitve effects.

  5. Not a problem with our grandkids who have a good healthy diet and also love their fruit. Plus they’re active, though our boy will tend to sit more than our girl, given half a chance. He’s so laid back compared to her.

  6. As a step grandmother, I spoil my hubby’s grandkids rotten. We see them so seldom that when we do it is “butt out, Mum and Dad”. All 4 have very good diets at home and love all the good stuff, but when they visit us they can have whatever treats they want…in moderation.

    2 REPLY
  7. Of course we feed the Grandkids treats but as I also take them out for Hugh stints at the park pools ect they burn off more then I give them.Spend 6 hours at pool with slides ect and they barely stop too draw breath. When with me we are very active they climb trees surf do lots and the have to eat fruit and healthy stuff as well.

  8. Then there is the other side of the coin. My niece and her husband are the epitome of helicopter parents. The kids, now 8 & 6 yrs had never spent an hour without a parent present until they went to school. No sleepovers with nan & pop, no treats that are not “healthy” from anyone, no toys or games that have even the slightest potential to bruise them let alone any serious injury. Neither child can ride a bike, even with training wheels. My dad always had a lolly or two in his pocket when he visited my nieces and nephews, and my brother wanted to carry on the tradition, but his daughter has prevented most of his joy of being a grandparent away. So sad.

    4 REPLY
  9. It’s fine provided it is mixed with sound values of how to be a good person, being polite, answering questions fully. Helping the elderly, etc. I just love to see and hear polite children. I meet many of them on my morning walk who say good morning, stand aside to let me pass when they are on their way to and from school. I’m sure they have plenty on their minds especially when with their peers. So nice to experience.

  10. The problem is that sweet foods and drinks are considered treats. There are other ways to treat the grandkids. When my grandkids are with me I get them to draw up food menus for their stay. Then we find the recipes and go shopping for ingredients. Then they help with the cooking. The other list we make up is what they’d like to do each day. There’s no need for lollies and cans of drink to ensure enjoyment.

  11. I love my grandchildren to bits ,now most of them are older and school holidays is my time to catch up and yes In my home it is grans rules, they go home back to there various stricter home routines refreshed ready to start a new school term and their parents rules.

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