Survey Says: Kids Gain More Weight in Summer

healthy kidsSchool is out and kids are excited about lots of fun. But a recent study has some parents a bit concerned about summer days.

A recent study by the Ohio State University Department of Sociology and the Initiative for Population Research reports that “growth in BMI was typically faster and more variable during summer vacation than during the kindergarten and first-grade school years.” That means children are more likely to gain weight during summer than during the school year.

According to the study, over the past 2 decades, the prevalence of overweight among young US schoolchildren has tripled.

What Causes Weight Gain in Summer?

So why might summer be a time when kids gain weight?

  • Picnics, festivals, vacations, and other events are often laden with high-fat foods and plenty of desserts.
  • Kids are often treated to ice cream and other treats during summer months when the temperature rises.
  • Non-school environments are typically more free-form with less structure and discipline.
  • Many summer activities are not supervised for children (including access to snacks in the home).
  • Children may enjoy more sedentary activities such as video games, TV, and other activities during the day.

Help Kids Eat Healthier and Move More

What can you do to help your child stay focused on healthy nutrition all year long, and especially in summer months?

  • Set an example by eating healthy yourself. Kids learn through observation.
  • Keep fresh vegetables on hand – washed, cut up in bite sized pieces, and stored on the lower shelves of the refrigerator.
  • Always encourage kids to eat a healthy breakfast – starting the day with good nutrition is good for everyone and helps kick off the day the right way.
  • Keep processed foods to a minimum – opt for pretzels or whole wheat crackers instead of chips and nachos.
  • Encourage kids to drink water as much as possible. Make it more appealing by infusing it with strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, peaches, or other fresh fruits.
  • Try new recipes with fresh ingredients from the garden, grocery, or farmers markets.
  • Prepare delicious, low-fat healthy smoothies in place of high-fat ice cream or sugary soft drinks.
  • Stay active – get outside as much as possible. Visit local parks, participate in sports, swim, bike, walk/run, and enjoy family games in the backyard. Find ways to continue moving as much as possible.
  • Limit time kids spend on video games and other technology so they’re not sitting around as much.
  • Take kids shopping with you – visit farmer’s markets and other places where fresh local produce is most appealing.

Make your summer fun AND healthy. Keep kids moving and eating nutritiously by setting a good example.

Study source: The American Journal of Public Health.