Children who regularly attend daycare are more likely to be obese than those who stay home with a parent, new research shows. However, the reason for this is unknown, and experts believe that the opposite should be true, since daycare facilities have the unique ability to monitor children’s eating and exercise habits.
Dr. Marie-Claude Geoffroy, lead author of the study, explained:
“We found that children whose primary care arrangement between 1.5 and 4 years was in daycare-center or with an extended family member were around 50% more likely to be overweight or obese between the ages of 4-10 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.”
In a new study, Canadian researchers looked at more than 1,600 families in Quebec with children born in 1997 or 1998. Mothers were interviewed about their childcare arrangements at the children’s age of one and a half, two and a half, and three years.
It is important to note that the study uncovered only an association between daycare attendance and overweight, not a cause-and-effect relationship. The study, publishing in this month’s Journal of Pediatrics,notes that diet and physical activity amongst the children studies need to be examined in order to determine why children who go to daycare are more likely to gain weight, noted study co-director Dr. Sylvana Cote.
“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,” she encouraged.
Researches maintain that daycare facilities have the potential to “reduce weight problems in children, through methods such as encouraging physical activity and healthy eating.”
Another co-director of the study, Dr. Jean Séguin, noted the enormous potential of the impact of daycare on the nutritional health of children 2-5 years of age.
Readers, do you think that childcare facilities should put more emphasis on healthy eating and exercise, based on these new findings?