Prevent Children’s Summer Weight Gain
Posted: June 9, 2014
It may also mean weight gain for kids. Research shows that children often put on weight during this time of year because they do not get enough physical activity and they snack too much between meals. Below are some suggestions for parents to help them maintain their children’s weight when school is out.
- Encourage your kids to get outside and be active. Be a role model and get involved in physical activity with them. Take a walk after dinner or ride bikes together. Limit the amount of screen time your children may watch TV, be on the computer, or play video games to an hour or two each day.
- Watch portion sizes. Avoid allowing the children to eat directly from large bags of snack foods. Instead, prepackage snacks into smaller bags so portions are limited and it’s convenient for kids to grab. Keep healthier snack options like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain crackers, part skim mozzarella cheese sticks, small lowfat yogurt containers, and lowfat milk readily available. Cut up fruits and vegetables and store in containers in the refrigerator so your family is more likely to eat them.
- Be mindful of the drinks your children consume. Encourage them to drink water to stay hydrated rather than juice, soda, and sports drinks which have sugar and calories.
- Make homemade frozen treats rather than purchase sugary popsicles and high fat ice cream novelties. This allows you to control portions as well as ingredients. Some frozen snack ideas include pouring 100% fruit juice into a small paper cup. Stick a plastic spoon in it and freeze. Or make sundaes or parfaits with frozen yogurt rather than high fat ice cream.
- Give kids a regular routine when school is out. Make sure summer days have some structure; for example, getting up at the same time each day and eating meals at set times. Remind kids to eat breakfast. Especially if they are home alone, discourage kids from continuous snacking by leaving easy-to-prepare meals for lunch and limiting snack food choices.
Here are a few ideas for quick, healthy lunches:
- Whole wheat bread and sandwich fixings, including pre-cut veggies.
- Leftovers from last night’s supper, including salad.
- Cold pasta, potato or tuna salads, made with lots of veggies.
- Fresh, cut-up vegetables with dip.
- Fruit salad made with summer fruit in season.
- Hard-boiled eggs, string cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese–cold foods are more appealing on a hot day and don’t require cooking. These foods all have some protein, which will help kids feel full longer and hopefully decrease snacking later.
Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Extension in Lackawanna County.