The role of grandparents as providers of food to their grandchildren
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The increasing reliance on grandparents as a source of childcare means that child dietary intake, child obesity, and child health may be increasingly influenced by grandparents’ food provision. Although calls have been made for research that explores the role of grandparents in shaping children's eating behaviours, results of research assessing the types of foods provided by grandparents have been limited in focus to fruit and vegetables or energy-dense nutrient-poor foods. In addition, research assessing the determinants of food provision is lacking. Such information is important in identifying targets for education programs that aim to improve grandparents’ food provision practices. Accordingly, the present study assessed the extent to which Australian grandparents are providing meals and snacks for their grandchildren, the types of foods and beverages being provided, and the determinants of provision. Grandparents providing regular childcare (i.e., =3 h every week) to at least one grandchild aged 3–14 years were recruited (n = 1076; 60% female; age = 65.07 years (SD = 6.68)). Results revealed that a majority of grandparents (82%) reported providing their grandchild with snacks. Nearly one-fifth (18%) of grandparents reported providing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. The provision of main meals occurred one to three times a week and snack provision occurred two to six times a week. Although grandparents generally provided a healthy food environment, practices were found to differ by the sociodemographic characteristics (sex, age, and socioeconomic status) of grandparent caregivers and by the sex and age of the grandchild in their care. Results suggest that grandparents should be considered crucial to efforts to increase healthy eating in children and address childhood obesity.
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