Grandparents may pose cancer risk to children with candies

Grandparents risk harming health of grandchildren by giving too many treats, say health experts

Grandparents risk harming health of grandchildren by giving too many treats, say health experts

In many cases, such as rewarding good behaviour with candies, they were putting the health of their grandchildren at risk with kindness.

They spoil their grandchildren with sweet treats and big helpings of fattening food, and expose their lungs to second-hand tobacco smoke, it is claimed. Grandparents overall were found to have an adverse effect on the health of the children despite meaning well.

Researchers from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, published the results of the review - which looked at 56 studies with data from 18 countries, concerning the care provided by grandparents who are not the primary carer of their grandchildren - today in the journal PLOS ONE. There is evidence to suggest that exposure to risk factors in childhood increases an individual's 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.

The authors emphasised that none of the reviewed studies took account of the positive emotional benefit of children spending time with their grandparents.

"Currently grandparents are not the focus of public health messaging targeted at parents and in light of the evidence from this study, perhaps this is something that needs to change given the prominent role grandparents play in the lives of children".

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

These included the growing proportion of women in the workforce, rising childcare costs and increasing numbers of single parents.

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".

"Unfortunately... parents increasingly need to rely on this free form of childminding".

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