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

Posted by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:43 AM
  • 16 Replies

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

by Mary Fischer

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?

by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:43 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Barb on Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:45 AM

I believe it!  My MIL gave the kinds candy and cookies from the time they got up in the morning- yes, before breakfast- until the last thing at night.

by Bronze Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Ds is with one set of grandparents or the other several times a week. They aren't babysitting though since I'm right down the road, they have him visit because they love him. He eats whatever he wants here or there and is skinny as a rail. He requires a high fat diet so I don't really mind. 

by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:48 AM

I believe it. My kids grandparents always have a bag of gummy worms, and a pack of m&m's for the kids whenever we see them ... plus anything else they want. They don't babysit, but even just an hr with them and my kids have enough sugar for a week. That's what grandparents are for though ;) 

by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:48 AM
My in laws do watch my dd but not on a regular basis. They usually do give her popicils and pudding. They give her apple slices and oranges. If you give her a choice most of the time she'll pick the fruit or carrot sticks over the junk.
by Gold Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 9:52 AM

I believe it.  SO glad my IL's only occasionally watch my kids (less than once a month).  Their house is FULL of crap.  They have an entire pantry dedicated to cookies, chips, crackers, etc.  It's ridiculous!  We don't buy that stuff unless we're having a party and other people will be eating it.

by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:17 AM
I believe it! My oldest has struggled with her weight since age 4. My in laws disregard my requests for healthier fare if she's over there. And they wonder why she's rarely there anymore...
by Ruby Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 10:19 AM
I believe it. We visited grandparents for 2 weeks every summer. We all gained during that time.
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by on Jul. 2, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I agree. I was practically raised by my grandparents bc my folks worked so much, and she fed me ANYTHING I wanted. I was heavy most of my adolescent life. (Please don't think I'm bashing or blaming my grandma, she was an angel on Earth. But she did overindugle me food-wise) LOL 

I stay home with my kiddos, but I'm thankful to say that both my MIL and my mom are fairly particular about what the kids eat, and would keep them healthy (for the most part) LOL 

by Cecilia on Jul. 2, 2013 at 2:41 PM


by Silver Member on Jul. 2, 2013 at 3:19 PM

I'm glad my parents don't watch my DD, my dad would be feeding her all day long. He grew up literally being starved by his foster parents and feels compelled to feed DD every time she is over there, even if I tell him it's 15 minutes to her meal time. He just can't stand making her wait. She would be huge if she had to be over there every day without me to intercept. My in-laws at least ask me if it's OK before giving her a snack. I totally believe that grandparents would do this!

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