School May Be Out, but Kids Still Need Summer Nutrition Lessons
By Julie Upton, RD
When I was a kid (a chubby one at that), summertime was when I normally lost a few pounds through increased daily activities—riding my bike to the public beach, swimming and goofing around all day, then riding my bike home for dinner. Even though my lunch money was typically spent on ice cream sandwiches and soft-serve, the amount of time I spent being active during the day was enough to enable me to slim down before September.
Today, however, thanks to open kitchen pantries and too much TV time (not to mention cheese fries, as the New York Times suggested this week), many kindergarten and elementary school children—at critical points in their lives for optimizing body weight—are actually packing on pounds during summer vacation.
In a 2007 study, researchers at Ohio State and Indiana universities analyzed the body fat of more than 5,000 kindergarten and first graders in schools across the country.Body mass index (BMI) measures were taken for these children throughout the academic year. From these data, the researchers compared BMI changes over the nine-month school year versus with changes during the three-month summer vacation.
The results? During summer vacation, the average BMI increased more than twice as fast as during the school year.