Although it looks like summer breaks are the period of the year when children are most active, the real situation is exactly the opposite. Based on the latest national study, elementary school kids have a higher risk of gaining weight during the summer vacation.
A group of scientists conducted a comprehensive research in which they analyzed 18,170 children starting from kindergarten until the end of the second grade. Based on the findings, 28.7 percent of the participants were overweight in 2013 compared to 2010, when just 23.3 percent of them had weight problems.
Worse, obesity rates increased from 8.9 percent to 11.5 percent during the same period. It is worth mentioning that all these changes were recorded in the summer breaks. In other words, these kids maintained the same weight during the school year.
According to lead author Paul von Hippel, who is also an associate professor at the University of Texas, although many schools promote nutrition and fitness programs, they are backed down by children’s bad habits during summer breaks.
These programs consist of physical education, healthy cafeteria food, and soda bans among others. Other previous studies have shown that summer vacation is the ideal period when children lose their math and reading skills, besides the fact that many of them become overweight.
Specialists believe that this situation occurs due to a lack of strict schedule among these kids. By having more free time, the spend it eating junk food and playing video games. Also, they have a poor sleep quality, and this contributes not just to weight gain but also to the development of other conditions related to mental health.
Rising temperatures during summer make them less active as well. Even so, scientists strongly recommend parents to encourage their children to adopt healthier behaviors.
They further stress on the fact that public health officials, parents, and teachers must join their forces in developing a wide range of educational and recreational programs that will encourage children to become more active during summer.
Kids don’t like to be told what to do, and that is why they need to be persuaded to participate in such programs. If these children regulate their sleep, reduce media use, and adopt healthier dietary habits during summer breaks, they will have a much lower risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Image Source: Womanista