As if the continuing news about the obesity crisis isn’t frustrating enough, now summer vacation is implicated. According to the recently released report, “Healthy Summers for Kids, Turning Risk into Opportunity,” prepared for the National Summer Learning Association, children are at risk for weight gain during the summer months.
Why the concern? During summer vacation, eating habits and physical activity often change. There is less structure to the day, and this may affect meals and playtime activities. Children may consume unhealthy snacks and exercise less, spending more time with video games or TV. These factors could then lead to an inappropriate weight gain, not in line with expected growth.
The report further highlights programs that are already helping to reduce the health consequences of poor eating and exercise habits of summer. One of the local community programs outlined is right here in Alabama, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control, and led by the United Way of Alabama and the Jefferson County Department of Health. This program supports strategies that promote development and use of neighborhood sidewalks, bike lanes, nutritious vending machine options, community gardens and health-conscious day-care centers.
In addition to these funded programs, the metro Birmingham area has a wealth of venues for families to keep kids active and engaged during the summer months including Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Ruffner Mountain, Oak Mountain State Park, McWane Science Center, YMCA, and University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
Or, plan games for your own backyard fun, such as Follow the Leader and Three-ring Toss. A backyard safari adventure would be great fun for kids, especially with the explorer gear at Dollar Tree.
When the kids come in for a cool snack, offer a healthy treat like Yogurt Popsicles. The following recipe is a favorite from a Vicki Lansky book, Feed Me, I’m Yours.
- 1 carton plain yogurt
- 1 (6 oz) container, frozen, concentrated, unsweetened fruit juice, thawed in refrigerator (I use orange juice)
- Dash of vanilla (optional)
Mix ingredients well. Freeze in molds or 3 oz paper cups. If using cups, insert wooden sticks or spoons when mixture is partially frozen.
Be active, eat healthy, and have fun this summer.
Photo Credit: Worakit Sirijinda/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The articles written by Andrea Wenger, Birmingham Diets Examiner, are for informational purposes only and are not to be used in the place of medical advice. Please contact a licensed physician or other medical professional before changing any health care routine or before starting any diet, fitness, or exercise program. Although every effort has been made to include the most current information, new information is released daily and may cause some recommendations to change.