It’s June, and that means school is letting out for millions of kids – but according to a new brief from Active Living Research, those of us who associate summer vacation with healthy activities like “riding bikes to the corner store, walking to the local swimming hole, [and] playing active games with neighborhood friends every day” are out of touch with the reality of summer break for today’s children.
Recent research shows that children gain up to three times as much weight during summer break as they do during the entire school year. This troubling pattern exists for kids of all backgrounds but is especially severe among African-American and Hispanic kids, as well as those who are already overweight. Other research shows that kids involved in cardiovascular fitness programs at school may get healthier during the school year, but by the time they get back from summer vacation, they’ve lost that progress.
To help kids stay healthy year-round, the new brief recommends that healthy eating and physical activity standards – such as serving a fruit or vegetable daily and offering 60 minutes of daily physical activity for full-day programs – be implemented in summer programs offered by organizations like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and parks and recreation departments.