Like adults, children on vacation change their usual routines. They are more relaxed, we tend to be more flexible with schedules, and as is normal, these changes also have an impact on the diet of our little ones. There are children who gain or lose weight in summer.
According to a review conducted in the United States led by Harvard University, between June and August children can gain weight at a faster rate during the summer compared to the school year, especially if they are already overweight or obese.
The school routine during the year encourages children to have more orderly schedules and habits than during summer holidays, when they tend to eat late and are more prone to consuming processed and calorie-laden foods. If eating habits are too uncontrolled, the risk of accelerated weight gain that leads to childhood obesity increases.
This year the impact of weight gain is especially worrying, as the summer has been preceded by confinement due to the coronavirus, which aggravates the situation. It has been three months in which physical activity has been drastically reduced and children's routines have been completely disrupted.
Why do children gain weight in summer?
There are several factors that can be attributed to weight gain in children during summer vacation:
- Decrease their physical activity during the school year.
- Easy access to fast food: ice cream, hamburgers, soft drinks, bag snacks, etc.
- Unstructured schedules and habits.
- Meals away from home increase: less homemade food.
- Irregular sleeping patterns.
There are children who lose weight
On the contrary, there are also children who perform much more intense physical activity than during the rest of the year, and lose weight. They may need to eat more to compensate for the energy expenditure, but they are children who spend what they consume, and at the end of the summer we can see them much more stylized. Children are usually those children who hit the stretch in summer.
It is also possible that the heat makes them lose their appetite, or that they are more entertained in their games than in eating.
Healthy eating without lack of control
That routines are made more flexible is not bad, but when we talk about food we must take certain precautions to take care of what our children eat, trying to offer healthy foods in order to avoid uncontrolled weight variations.
- Increase hydration: correct hydration is key to a healthy diet and to prevent heat stroke in summer. Water is the best option to cool off.
- Offer seasonal fruits and increase the consumption of vegetables: increase the fresh dishes with salads, fruits and even legumes. Summer fruits such as melon, watermelon, peaches, apricots ... are very rich and fresh. These foods hydrate and are an important source of highly palatable vitamins and minerals. Salads can be pasta, legumes, fruits ...
- Avoid skipping meals: it is important to respect meal times, as much as possible, and eat as a family without distractions such as mobiles or television.
- Choose a healthy preparation: the iron, the boiled, the steam, roast and even the barbecue, if it is made with healthy ingredients, are perfect ways to cook for this time, when stews may be less appetizing. Lean meat and fish cooked lightly are a good source of protein, minerals ...
- Healthy snacks: summer is a very inviting time for snacking, as children are at home more time. Offer healthy snacks (here are a few recipes).
- Encourage physical activity: food is important but it is also important to exercise. There are children who exercise at school and in the summer at home they spend many hours on the sofa. Our example is key for children to move. Find activities to do with your children such as riding a bike, taking walks, exercising on the beach ...
Childhood obesity is worrisome and since summer is a time for weight gain, it is important that we do not neglect healthy eating in summer and make appetizing and healthy food available. Is your son one of those who gain or lose weight in summer?