The Link Between Childcare and Obesity

According to a recent study, childcare settings can have a big impact on a child’s weight and activity level.  The study found that children in certain childcare settings are about one and a half times more likely to be overweight than children who stayed home and were cared for by their parents.

The study followed more than 1600 Quebec children between the ages of 4 and 10 years over a six-year period. Thirty percent of the children were in daycare, 35 percent in home-care, 11 percent were cared for by extended family members, 5 percent were cared for by a nanny, and 19 percent were cared for by their parents.  The study found that children who received care in a centre-based daycare or by an extended family member such as a grandparent had the highest body mass index (BMI).

Researchers believe it is possible that in both of these types of care situations, children may be leading a more sedentary life. In the case of daycares, the food choices may be made to appeal to a larger number of children, and therefore are often higher in calories. While the study is not conclusive, it does suggest that environmental factors can have a major impact on the health, weight, and activity level of children.

Journal of Pediatrics, November 19, 2012

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