Grandparents behaviour could have a negative impact on their grandchildren's health

Grandchildren more often looked after by maternal grandmother 20% more likely to be chubby

The review focused on data concerning the kind of care grandparents provided as non-primary carers of their grandchildren.

Past research has focused primarily on how parents are sometimes responsible for their children growing up with health issues, with little research directed towards how other relatives, responsible for looking after the children from time to time, might be impacting them. As such, the study aimed to identify how grandparents' habits influence long-term cancer risk factors in their grandchildren.

Poor diet, excess weight, smoking and lack of physical activity are all known to increase the risk of cancer, said the researchers.

The report said exposure to risk factors in childhood could increase the likelihood of cancer morbidity or mortality in adulthood, and factors associated with children's long term cancer risk are first experienced within the family setting.

In the study, smoking around the children, even when they had been asked not to, became an area of conflict between grandparents and parents.

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According to Dr. Stephanie Chambers, the study's lead author, the results of their review clearly showed that grandparents have a hand in increasing cancer risks in their grandchildren.

Despite meaning well, grandparents were found to have a harmful effect on their grandchildren's health.

Dr Chambers added, 'From the studies we looked at, it appears that parents often find it hard to discuss the issues of passive smoking and over-treating grandchildren. Grandparents often smoke with children, this affects their health and leads to an increase in the number of cancer.

Given how parents rely on grandparents for childcare, the researchers noted it is necessary to address mixed messages right away for the benefit of the children. The research found "excessive feeding" of children was a significant grandparent problem, as was providing meals made from unhealthy ingredients. However, this does not remove the fact that grandparents could be damaging their grandchildren's health.

"With both smoking and obesity being the two biggest preventable causes of cancer in the United Kingdom, it's important for the whole family to work together", she said. But it's also important for children to maintain a healthy weight into adulthood, and in today's busy world it's often the wider family who have a role to play in keeping youngsters healthy.

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