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Childhood Obesity Gets Worse In the Summer

I just read a study revealing that during the K-2nd grade years, kids get significantly fatter during the summer months. At first pass, this seems impossible, but when I really think about it, it seems probable.

My kids’ summers are not the summers of my youth, where we left the house after breakfast and came home when the street lights went on, dirty, sweaty, sunburned and exhausted. The activity kids do today are more organized, meaning more time listening to instruction than actually running around. They spend more time in front of screens, and virtual activity does not burn calories. They get rides everywhere they need to go, and indeed, the researchers of the study hypothesized kids do less physical activity than they do during the school year.

I have another theory. Kids aren’t near a refrigerator all day during the school year. Physical activity is vital to a healthy life, but the real danger is in all the extra food kids have time for during the summer. The risk is in all the snacking; the packed snacks when they leave the house for 5-10 minutes, the snacks they run back in for after being outside for what feels like no time, the frequent trips for ice cream and the junk that surrounds them all day in what is often a very social season.

Experts say obesity can be the result of as little as an additional 160 extra calories each day for children. That’s one scoop of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip ice cream, 14oz of coke or one small bag of popcorn. Childhood Obesity Awareness Month is September. I think by then it may be too late! Focus on delicious in season fruits and veggies this summer, and get your kids moving!

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About Dr. Karen Latimer

I’m a family physician now struggling to take care of a bunch of kids who keep calling me Mom. When I’m not wiping butts, refereeing sibling rivalry and chauffeuring over-scheduled little people, I write a family medical blog that gives you five thoughts on all sorts of different health topics.

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