204706 Will grandma leave too?: The health burden of obesity among custodial grandparents

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:50 PM

Syidah Abdullah, MS , Department of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Haslyn E. R. Hunte, PhD, MPH , Department of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
The rising obesity epidemic among older Americans, the fastest growing age group in the United States, will not only challenge our healthcare system, but will also strain other health-related social policies. Of particular interest is the indirect effect of obesity among custodial grandparents on their young dependents. The cumulative effects of obesity poses a unique set of health challenges among the elderly and may be particularly salient among elderly populations burdened with the responsibility of being primary caregiver.

Using the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, we explore the health of older Americans who are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren. Consistent with other studies, our analyses suggest that custodial grandparents were on average 12 years older than non-custodial grandparents (p < .05) and were more likely to report limitations in activities of daily living (p < .05) than non-custodial grandparents. Preliminary results, using logistic regression analysis controlling for age, suggest that custodial grandparents are twice as likely to be overweight/obese than non-custodial grandparents (odds ratio = 2.13, p < 0.05).

This observation is troubling because custodial grandparents may provide a stable, loving environment for their grandchildren who might otherwise be exposed to deleterious living conditions. Research supports the benefits of this relationship for grandchildren. However, the impact of this arrangement on the health of the caregiving grandparent has been less positive.

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the relationship between obesity and custodial grandparenting Discuss the health and economic implications of custodial grandparenting

Keywords: Elderly, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am conducting research on the health outcomes of custodial granparents
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.