School’s Out for the Summer But Calories Still Add Up: Five Ways Parents Can Prevent Childhood Obesity at Home
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 those long summer days:
- Assess the snacks in your fridge and cupboards. Throw out the unhealthy snacking options and replace them with ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables to make it easier for children to make good choices.
- Have children join you on grocery trips so you can look at healthier options together.
- Go on family walks after dinner.
- Encourage your child to be more active throughout the day by setting small goals or challenges like how many stairs can you take today?
- Don’t completely eliminate treats. Instead, set limits like only one cookie rather than a whole row or 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 setting back their health and wellness.
These tips were recently featured in the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development Vision 2020 blog written by Don Dengel, associate professor in exercise physiology. Dengel, along with Dr. Aaron Kelly, also runs the Vikings Fitness Playbook program; a three-year program developed by the University of Minnesota’s CEHD and Department of Pediatrics along with the Minnesota Vikings Children’s Fund, to improve heart health and teach children and parents about healthy eating choices and fitness. Learn more about Don Dengel and the program at http://cehdvision2020.umn.edu/.