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This study aims to understand nutrition-related roles, responsibilities and ethical issues of grandparents caring for their grandchildren in skip-generation households in rural Cambodia. Over the past decade, Cambodia has experienced a rise in economic migration of working age populations. This has resulted in increasing numbers of 'skip-generation' households, in which grandparents and grandchildren co-reside without parents, reflecting potential household vulnerability. This qualitative study involved in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with Cambodian grandparents who were primary caregivers to grandchildren for six months or longer. A total of 39 grandparents were recruited at two sites in north-west Cambodia. Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted in Khmer and were recorded, transcribed and translated into English. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Grandparents in this study looked after an average of three children, aged between two months and 18 years old. Overall, 40% were sole caregivers. Analysis showed that grandparents, particularly grandmothers, played a central role in their grandchildren's health and nutrition. Although grandchildren's health and nutrition were a major priority to grandparents, they reported facing significant challenges to safeguard their grandchildren's and their own nutritional needs. As a result, grandparents frequently faced difficult ethical trade-offs and prioritised their grandchildren's health and nutrition over their own. This study highlights that in order to improve child nutrition, policies and interventions need to be designed in ways that support and enable grandparent caregivers to meet their grandchildren's health and nutritional needs without neglecting their own.

Original publication




Journal article


Matern Child Nutr

Publication Date



17 Suppl 1


ageing, care-giving, family influences, grandparent caregiving, health policy, infant and child nutrition, poverty, qualitative methods