University of Montreal researchers have found that young children who attend daycare are 50 percent more likely to be overweight than those kids who stayed at home with their parents.
The study involved more than 1,600 families with children born in 1997-1998 in Québec. The researchers say the sample was representative of the majority of Québec children. The children were classified according to the type of care in which they had spent the most total hours: daycare centre (30 percent), family daycare (35 percent), with an "extended family member" (11 percent), with a nanny (5 percent), or with their parents (19 percent). Over a six year period, the researchers measured the children's weight and height.
"We found that children whose primary care arrangement between 1.5 and 4 years was in daycare or with an extended family member were around 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese between the ages of 4-10 years compared to those cared for at home by their parents," said Dr. Marie-Claude Geoffroy, who led the study.
At present, the researchers can't answer why there are such a high percentage of overweight children in child care. Geoffroy said that the 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. "Diet and physical activity are avenues to follow," suggested co-researcher Dr. Sylvana Côté.
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Source: University of Montreal