Daycare children 50% more likely to be overweight – study

DailyMail (UK) 20 Nov 2012
If working parents didn’t feel guilty enough about leaving their children at nursery, now new research has found daycare could encourage obesity. Researchers found school pupils are 50 per cent more likely to be overweight if they attended nursery regularly compared to those who stayed at home with their parents. Even leaving a child with a relative significantly increased the risk of obesity. Study leader Dr Marie-Claude Geoffroy, from the University of Montreal, said: ‘We found that children whose primary care arrangement between 1.5 and four years was in daycare-center or with an extended family member were around 50 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese between the ages of four and 10 years compared to those cared for at home by their parents.’ ‘This difference cannot be explained by known risk factors such as socioeconomic status of the parents, breastfeeding, body mass index of the mother, or employment status of the mother.’ The researchers said the reasons for the difference in weight is not yet known but unhealthy meals and lack of exercise could play a part. ‘Diet and physical activity are avenues to follow,’ says Dr Sylvana Côté, who co-directed the study. ‘Parents don’t have to worry; however, I suggest to parents they ensure their children eat well and get enough physical activity, whether at home or at daycare.’ The team studied 1,649 families with children born in 1997-1998 in Québec. Mothers were interviewed about the care of their children at 1.5 years, 2.5 years, 3.5 years, and four years.