Research shows that a staggering percentage of young people suffer learning-loss and acquire unhealthy eating habits during summer break. Young people can lose more than two months of progress in reading achievement over the summer, 1 out of 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese, and millions of youth go without healthy, nutritious meals over the summer months.
As the school year comes to an end, it’s often assumed that weight gain will not be a concern with the warm summer weather enticing children to get outside and play. In actuality, weight gain is greater in the summer than during the school year. Why? Without the structure that school provides, many children have time to lounge around and raid the fridge and cupboards while parents are at work.
With childhood obesity on the rise, summertime is the perfect opportunity for parents to keep children active and eating healthy. Here are five simple ways to combat childhood obesity in your home during long summer days:
1. Assess the snacks in your fridge and cupboards. Throw out unhealthy snacking options and replace them with ready-to-eat fruits and vegetable to make it easier for children to make good choices.
2. Have children join you on grocery trips so you can look at healthy options together.
3. Go on family walks after dinner.
4. Encourage your child to be more active throughout the day by setting small goals or challenges. For example, set challenges like, “how many stairs can you take today?”
5. Don’t completely eliminate treats. Instead, set limits such as only one cookie rather than a whole plate.
Implementing simple, concrete goals is the most effective way for parents and their children to adopt healthier lifestyles and survive the warm summer months without experiencing a setback in their health and wellness.
*Contributed by YWCA Greater Los Angeles Youth Services