Children who attend day care regularly are 50 percent more likely to be overweight than those who stay home with parents, according to a new University of Montreal study in Quebec. Lead researcher Marie-Claude Geoffroy said the disparity "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."
Researchers studied more than 1,600 families with children born in 1997 and 1998 in Quebec, a sample that was representative of the majority of kids in the province. Mothers were interviewed about their children's care at ages 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 and 4. Children were put into groups based on the type of care they received most. Researchers concluded that 65 percent of children spent most of their time in day care. Just 19 percent were cared for mostly by a parent.
Researchers found no clear explanation for the weight disparities, but they argued that day care has the potential to reduce weight problems in children through promotion of physical activity and healthy eating. (Read more)