Actually, you probably don’t need Science to explain why kids pack on the pounds between first and third grade – I can do that for you, or you can figure it out for yourself just as easily – but we’ll humor Science, because Science brings us so many great things. A group of researchers recently released a report outlining just exactly how bad children’s weight gain is during the early years of grade school. The report, featured in Pediatrics magazine, shows that data collected on a large study group of kids from 1998 to 2007 indicates that 40% of children entering kindergarten did so with a body mass index in the top quartile of the charts (greater than 75%). That’s not good. Even worse, the numbers jumped by nearly 6% between 1st and 3rd grade.
Of course, there are lots of reasons why this happens. Kids spend much more time sitting at desks, far too many schools still have vending machines with crappy snacks, far too many schools have cut way back on their PE programs, far too many schools have lunch programs that are based on really unhealthy food (pizza is a vegetable!) and far too many parents fail at giving their kids healthy meals and snacks.
But like I said, you probably figured this out on your own, because it’s basic common sense: as it goes with us, so it goes with our kids. Eat healthy, exercise more, and you and your kids will keep the pounds at bay. My wife and I started indoctrinating our kids at an early age, starting with breakfast cereals – we told the kiddies that since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you want to fill up your tanks with the good stuff: protein, whole grains, and fresh fruit. (I might have told my son that Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, and the like cause horrible diseases and make you crazy, which strictly speaking is sorta true. Bottom line: Pink Hearts and Blue Diamonds run counter to the laws of Nature.) And we’ve made it a point to drastically reduce the amount of processed food we consume. (Sorry, Campbell’s Soup: no more piping hot servings of hypertension for our kids.) And soda is banned in most instances, save for the occasional birthday party. (Wanna make yourself ill? Read the ingredients on a can of Orange Crush.) Those are three basic, and fairly easy, ways to help make sure your kids don’t join the swelling ranks of obese grade schoolers. What about you? Any easy tips on keeping your kids in shape? Comment away!