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article imageObesity rates higher when grandparents are around

By Tim Sandle     May 24, 2017 in Health
Guangzhou - Are grandparents to blame for obese children? This generalization has some basis, at least in China where researchers have compared obesity rates in different households.
The study comes from the University of Birmingham, U.K. and it has looked into why children on the fringes of Chinese cities have lower obesity rates than than children who live closer to the city center. The answer the researchers have come up with is that children who live closer out from the city do not have grandparents to overfeed them.
The research touches on other social factors. Children in more impoverished areas of China have fewer opportunities for unhealthy snacking, plus less pressure for academic achievement; they are also more likely to engage in active play. These are factors that contribute to lower obesity rates.
The grandparent factor has come to light following the University of Birmingham researchers conducting extensive interviews with parents, grandparents and teachers at various schools in the city of Guangzhou, located in southern China. Commenting on the outcome of the survey, Dr Bai Li, from the University of Birmingham states: ""It is clear that an important step towards preventing the rise of obesity in migrant children is understanding the perceptions of parents, grandparents and teachers on the causes of childhood obesity."
Obesity is becoming a major problem in China, with 15 percent of children estimated to be obese. With the grandparent link it is a common cultural practice for live-in grandparents to take responsibility for looking after their grandchild while the parents go to work. Dr. Li is calling for more education and awareness of the health implications to help to address the obesity problem.
The research has been published in the journal PLOS One, under the heading "Differences in perceived causes of childhood obesity between migrant and local communities in China: a qualitative study."
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