: Kids gain more weight when school’s out?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Kids gain more weight during the summer due to decreased activity and eating more calories than during the school year.
WHAT WE KNOW
Most parents are aware of common summertime dangers such as drowning and bike accidents, but what about the long-term health hazard of childhood obesity? School being out means more leisure time for the kids, which is great until half way through the summer when boredom takes over and they start watching more TV!
A person’s weight is often evaluated based on a measure known as the body mass index (BMI). BMI is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. It provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. The higher the BMI, the higher the percentage of fat and excess weight a person has. Learn More About BMI
What’s behind the boost in summer BMI? A combination of the same culprits that are linked to childhood obesity—increased TV viewing, more leisure time for unhealthy snacking, less time spent outside, and less structure in schedules, just to name a few.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health measured the BMIs of 5,380 children during their kindergarten year, the following summer, and first grade. The study found that on average the youngster’s BMI grew more than twice as fast during the summer break compared to the school year, especially in those who were already overweight.¹
Another study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics measured the total calorie intake difference between spring/summer and fall/winter of 623 subjects (ages 3-18) for one year. This study found that on average the reported daily intake during spring/summer was almost 100 calories more than fall/winter.²
Get your family moving and making healthy food choices! How?
Here’s a start …
- Talk to your kids the night before about the schedule for the next day. Having some structure will make the day‘s activities flow better—include at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day!
- Learn how to put together a healthy diet.
- Set rules and time limits over the summer break for screen time (TV, computer, etc). The current recommendation is no more than 2 hours daily.
6 Ways to Promote Physical Activity
- Keep a supply of water toys like squirt guns or water balloons.
- Enjoy the swimming pool. Encourage swim races or a game of Marco Polo.
- Shoot some hoops! Play a game of HORSE or one-on-one.
- Set up an obstacle course in your backyard or at a playground.
- Join your kids for some fun outdoor games like Mother May I, Red Light/Green Light, Simon Says, or hopscotch.
- When it’s too hot go outside … it’s time for video games like Dance, Dance Revolution, or other interactive, ACTIVE games! See our nutrition education catalog for fun interactive games too!
5 Ways to Promote Healthy Eating by Your Kids … When You’re Not Around
- Keep fruits & veggies readily available for healthy snacks .
- Pack MORE fruits & veggies in their lunch bags for camp or day care.
- Start a family garden.
- Try our kid-friendly healthy recipes.
- Challenge the kids to eat one fruit or veggie from each color group each day.
¹ von Hippel, P., B. Powell, D. Downey, and N. Rowland. “The Effect of School on Overweight in Childhood: Gain in Body Mass Index During the School Year and During Summer Vacation.” American Journal of Public Health
(2007); 97(4); 696-702.
² Yannakoulia, M., A. Drichoutis, M. Kontogianni, et al. “Season-Related Variation in Dietary Recalls Used in a Pediatric Population.” Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (2010); 23(5); 489-93.