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Indulgent Grandparents Are Not Good For Children’s Health, Study Says

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Grandparents who dote too much on their grandkids may not be helping the children’s health, a study says.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow suggest that indulgent grandparents often treat and overfeed kids. In addition, some tend to smoke when around their grandchildren, or don’t give them enough exercise, the BBC reports.

Maureen Lipman, actress and a grandmother of two, argued,

The grandparents’ job is always definitely to indulge.

The study looked at 56 other works that used data from 18 countries, including the United Kingdom, China, Japan and the United States. The researchers focused on the potential influence of grandparents who played a significant, though not primary, role as the children’s caregivers while growing up.

Three areas of influence established were physical activity, smoking, diet and weight.

When it came to diet and weight, grandparents turned out to have a negative effect. Parents characterized them as “indulgent” and “misinformed,” capable of using food as an emotional tool. According to studies, grandparents are inclined to feed kids high-fat and high-sugar foods, often in the form of treats.

Grandkids were also said to be getting too little exercise while under the care of their grandparents. The level of physical activity differed, depending on how active the grandparents were themselves and how much space was available for children’s activities.

Lipman contends that there’s a difference between grandparents who see their grandkids daily, and those who visit on the weekends. “If you’re seeing them once a week you’re going to overindulge but if you work with them every day, you’re going to treat them as your own children,” she said.

For her part, she gives her grandkids turkey dinosaurs and ice cream with jelly. “I try with the vegetables and fail. You can’t train other people’s children.” There is an “unspoken rivalry,” as well. “There are two sets of grandparents – and you don’t want to be the one that isn’t giving them the nice piece of cake,” Lipman said.

The study was published in PLOS One.

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