If you think what kids eat at school doesn’t matter, you might want to think again. A recent study showed that weight gain in kids during summer break is all too common. Maybe these healthy school lunch programs are working after all! Much like adults pack on the pounds over holidays, kids gain weight at a faster rate when they’re out of school, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health. A study published in the Journal of School Health found the same scenario.
So why’s this happening? A proposed theory is that the lack of structure and organization in most kids’ summer days leads to excessive snacking and a lack of physical activity. So even though we bash the nutritional quality of school lunches, perhaps they are helping somewhat after all.
So what’s a kid (or a mom) to do?
- Create a schedule. Just because school’s not in session doesn’t mean you can’t have a loosely structured routine. Doing so may help keep your kids active and distract them from snacking with boredom.
- Set a goal. There’s no doubt it can be tough to get motivated on summer break. Picking a goal to tackle with your kids can help drag you off the couch. Sign up for a 5K, pick a mountain to hike, or work your way up to swimming 40 laps in a row. Whatever it is, pick something you enjoy.
- Pay attention to what you eat. With BBQs every weekend, fun summer festivals to attend, and lots of refreshing frozen treats to choose from, its easy to get carried away. Filling half your plate with veggies before adding anything else may help you – and your kids, if they are willing – from going overboard on less than stellar choices.
- Stay active. Play tag, invent obstacle courses, or play on a jungle gym. If it’s too hot to run around, try pulling out the sprinkler, water guns, or head to a pool.