How healthy is the food the grandies are giving your kids while you're at work?
The common perception is probably ‘too many lollies!', but most are actually doing okay.
Our new study, funded by Healthway and conducted by the team here Cancer Council WA with Curtin University and Cancer Council Victoria found that over 80 per cent of grandparents feed their grandchildren snacks.
We involved 1000 grandparents - 60 per cent female - who provide more than three hours of care every week to at least one grandchild aged three to 14 years old.
We did the research to see if Australia's increasing reliance on grandparents for childcare could impact food provision and affect child dietary intake and childhood obesity.
The results suggest while many grandies are generally providing a healthy food environment, they could use a bit more support to know what they should feed their grandchildren and how to cut back on unhealthy snacks.
Some interesting things we found were:
- Girls were given fresh fruit, vegetables, and dried fruit or 100 per cent fruit juice more frequently than boys
- Grandmothers provided their grandchildren with fresh fruit and milk, cheese, or yoghurt more regularly than grandfathers
- Grandfathers gave their grandkids more savoury snacks than their female counterparts
- Younger grandparents fed their grandchildren grain, cereal foods and savoury snacks more often than older grandparents
- Older grandchildren were fed unhealthy food more often than the little ones. (We suspect they're better at bargaining..!)
How common is routine grandparent care?
One fifth of children whose mothers work are usually cared for by a grandparent, and grandparents look after nearly one-third of children who have two working parents. Around 34 per cent of 0-12 year olds are cared for by grandparents for 10 or more hours per week. (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017)
Our Nutrition and Physical Activity Manager, Steve Pratt, suggests:
- Encouraging kids to snack on salad vegetables and avoid packaged snacks where possible
- Using the information on food labels, like the nutrition information panel and health star rating, to guide food choices
- Involve grandchildren in choosing and preparing healthy meals and snacks
- Be proud of the contribution you're making to the health of young people