Grandparents may pose cancer risk to children with candies

Grandparents may pose cancer risk to children with candies

Grandparents are overfeeding children and letting them get away with not exercising when they are in charge, an overview of 56 studies in 18 countries has concluded.

Smoking, a poor diet and a lack of physical activity were all been identified as risk factors for diseases such as cancer, which children may carry into adulthood.

Despite meaning well, grandparents were found to have a harmful effect on their grandchildren's health. The research found "excessive feeding" of children was a significant grandparent problem, as was providing meals made from unhealthy ingredients.

There was also evidence the poverty and hunger some grandparents experienced themselves as children led them to believe extra weight was a sign of good health.

However the studies did not take into account the positive emotional benefit of children spending time with their grandparents.

Dr Chambers said: "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". "While the results of this review are clear that behaviour such as exposure to smoking and regularly treating children increases cancer risks as children grow into adulthood, it is also clear from the evidence that these risks are unintentional".

Changes in social conditions, such as more women in the workforce, childcare costs, and a rise in lone parenting, have led to a rise in grandparents looking after their grandchildren. "Given that many parents now rely on grandparents for care, the mixed messages about health that children might be getting is perhaps an important discussion that needs to be had".

Tam Fry, of the Child Growth Foundation, said: "Finding a doting grandparent who is confident enough to follow rules laid down by mum and to the letter is frequently a rarity".

"They bring out the biscuits at the slightest hint of a tantrum and, as the researchers report, they are also often too protective in loco parentis".