London - Children in daycare are 50 percent more likely to become overweight compared to those staying at home with their parents, claim researchers.

They found that under-fives who spent most of their time at a “daycare centre” or with an extended family member such as a grandparent were most at risk.

Researchers said it was a “mysterious link”, as the structured routine at daycare centres provided opportunities for the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity.

Dr Marie-Claude Geoffroy, who led the University of Montreal study, said: “We found that children whose primary care arrangement between 1.5 and four years was in daycare centres or with an extended family member were 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese between the ages of four to ten compared to those cared for at home by their parents.”

The researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Pediatrics, added: “Parents should they ensure their children eat well and get enough physical activity, whether at home or at daycare.”

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “There can be a big difference between the nutrients children are supposed to get in daycare and what they actually get.” - Daily Mail