Volume 25 (2015) Issue 9 Pages 600-607
Background: Because of the increasing number of mothers who continue to work after childbirth, participation in childcare has diversified. However, the impact of the main caregiver on children’s habits has not been determined. We sought to examine the effect of caregiver differences on childhood habituation of between-meal eating and body mass index (BMI).
Methods: The Ibaraki Children’s Cohort Study involved 4592 Japanese children whose parents answered health questionnaires at age 3. Follow-up questionnaires were distributed to parents when children were 6 and 12 years old and to study subjects directly when they were 22 years old. We compared prevalence of between-meal eating and overweight as well as mean BMI at ages 6, 12, and 22 years, by their main daytime caregiver at age 3.
Results: Compared to children cared for by mothers, those cared for by grandparents had a higher prevalence of between-meal eating before dinner for boys and girls at ages 6 and 12 years. At age 22 years, boys cared for by grandparents had a higher prevalence of overweight than those cared for by mothers (18.5% versus 11.2%, P = 0.037), but no such difference was noted in girls. However, both boys and girls cared for by grandparents had higher mean BMI over time than those cared for by mothers (coefficient = 0.47 kg/m2 for boys and coefficient = 0.35 kg/m2 for girls).
Conclusions: Being cared for by grandparents at age 3 was associated with subsequent between-meal eating habits, being overweight, and increased mean BMI from childhood to adulthood.