The last thing on your mind this summer may be your child’s weight gain. But research from a 2007 study by sociologists at Ohio State and Indiana Universities shows that Body Mass Index (BMI) for kindergartners and first graders across the country increased more than twice as fast during the summer as during the school year. So your child’s weight may be something you should think about this summer. Here are some things to do to keep your child at a healthy weight during the summer months:
- Limit your child’s time in front of the computer and television to no more than one or two hours a day. Encourage them to go outside and play instead.
- Keep kids on a regular eating schedule. If it is not a scheduled meal or snack time, make munching off limits.
- Set a bedtime. Just because they don’t have school, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go to bed at a decent hour. It’s okay to allow them to stay up a bit later, but late nights and sleeping in are risk factors for weight gain, and a shorter night’s sleep limits the body’s production of the hormone that promotes satiety, so kids snack more.
- Limit the sweets. Avoid sugary beverages and give your kids water instead. It’s okay to occasionally have an ice cream cone, cotton candy, or a slushie, but make sure it is in moderation.
- Enroll your children in organized sports camps for tennis, soccer, swimming, etc. It will keep them active and give them something to do besides sitting in front of a television screen.
- Avoid fast food. Pack a healthy lunch for your child with lots of protein, which will help keep you child’s energy level constant throughout the day.
- Incorporate produce into your meals, and encourage your children to help you pick out vegetables they will enjoy eating.
- Plan vacations to include physical activity. Biking, swimming, or hiking can be fun ways to spend a family get-away.
Just because your child is on vacation from school does not mean he or she should take a vacaction from healthy eating. Keep off the summer weight gain by promoting healthy activities and eating habits all summer long. Then you will have nothing to worry about when your child steps on the scale in the doctor’s office at the end of the summer.