Kids Pile on Pounds During Lazy Days of Summer
They may have a break from math class, but kids still do some adding over summer break. Problem is, what they tally is extra pounds.
Researchers analyzed a national sample that tracked the heights and weights of more than 13,000 kids for about three and a half years. The findings showed school-age children gained weight at a faster rate during summer vacation. In fact, overweight prevalence did not increase at all during the school years.
More Food, Less Motion Add Up
You might expect that bike rides, pool time, and fewer trips to the vending-machine line would slim students down over the summer. But absent a structured schedule, boredom and easy access to junk food may lead them to eat more calories instead.
Meanwhile, without P.E., recess, or sports, kids often move less. Disrupted sleep schedules may also play a role.
Steps to Stave Off Extra Pounds
During the approximately 190 days your kids spend out of school each year, you serve as teacher, coach, and principal. Keep your whole family’s weight in check with these summer strategies:
Schedule active time each day. Bike, hike, swim, do outdoor chores, or play in the park as a family. Choose times when you’re already together and everyone has a lot of energy—say, in the morning before the heat of the day.
Provide toys that encourage movement. Young kids may like balls and jump ropes.
Cut down on screen time. Limit TV, computer, and video game time to two hours per day.
Stock up on fresh, seasonal produce. At mealtimes, fill half of every plate with fruits and veggies.
Keep everyone hydrated. Supply plenty of low-fat milk and water instead of sugary juices and soda.