A new study went to show that children are more likely to gain a few extra pounds during the summer holidays and not in the winter period, as it is most commonly believed.
The study was published on Monday in Obesity and was led by the University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs associate professor, Paul von Hippel.
The notion that more weight is gained during the summer may seem odd to those who remember their youth holidays as being very active and full of movement.
However, the latest research goes to show that this might be the case, although a clear cut reason that would explain the phenomenon was not yet established.
The study followed a number of 18,170 nationally representative children from 2010 up until this year. The children’s BMI or body mass index was tracked from the very beginning of the study when the kids were just starting kindergarten, and up till they finished the second grade.
The such gathered data revealed that the kids were most likely to put on weight during the summer, and not throughout the three years worth of school time.
It also showed that throughout the two summer vacations, the children’s prevalence of both overweight and obesity also increased. The overweight prevalence numbers raised from 23.3 to 28.7 percent, whilst the prevalence of obesity went up from 8.9 to 11.5 percent.
The results were surprising, but somewhat in line with previous, similar research and come to contradict both the winter and the school-based weight gain beliefs.
The author of a similar study and clinical physiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Jennette Moreno went to state a number of possible factors which might determine this result.
As most childhood overweight and obesity problems are linked with cafeteria lunches, eating vending machine snacks, physical education classes and other school-related activities, the school’s stricter schedule might actually help.
Moreno believes that the irregular sleep patterns, coupled with the more relaxed structure of the summer days might constitute a factor for the BMI increase.
Other related elements could also be the lack of a constant physical activity, even if the child is very active, and the possibility of eating more during the summer.
As the circadian and sleep rhythms are disrupted, and with children being increasingly more dependent on digital devices, both researchers link this as possible causes of the BMI summer modification.
Von Hippel and Moreno both offered alternatives to the weight gain during the summer problem. The former offered summer learning programs and camps as an alternative against the obesity prevalence.
Moreno recommended that schools should start addressing the issue of weight gain just as they target the lack of summer activities. As such, they should offer programs and challenges that educate on the matter and aim to lower the possible outcomes.
Parents are also advised to try and keep a somewhat constant schedule throughout the summer and engage the kids in activities, so as to try and prevent the weight gain during the summer.
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