Study finds children gain more weight during the summer months

Weight gain is probably more closely associated with the winter months in most people’s minds. Saying nothing of all of the holidays that close out the year, and all of the snowed in binge eating, our bodies’ fat cells actually react positively to sunlight. These cells reside closest to the skin, so when they become exposed to the blue light created by the sun they begin to shrink, which prohibits them from storing extra fat.

Of course, there are other factors that govern periods of intense weight gain. As a new study posits, children have a particularly rough go at sticking to healthy diet regimens in the summer months, particularly on the weekends. Ultimately, a study period spanning more than five years, proved children gain considerably more weight during this period than they do during the winter. 

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Household food-insecurity

The study titled, Diet Quality and Fruit, Vegetable, and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption by Household Food Insecurity among 8- to 12-Year-Old Children during the Summer Months, presents findings that contradict conventional wisdom on the subject. It should follow that freedom from school, and warm weather equals more time engaging in physical activity. While that’s true for most children, it’s not enough to combat the excess of sugary beverages and snacks that are synonymous with a balmy day off.

The researchers began with a study of a group of 218 children, between the ages of eight and 12-years-old  for six years. Half of the participants were girls, 49% were non-white children, and 25% of the children came from food-insecure households. The U.S Department of Agriculture defines a food-Insecure household as one that consistently lacks access to foods and nutrients that promote a healthy and active life. Hunger and Health reports,It is important to know that hunger and food insecurity are closely related, but distinct, concepts. Hunger refers to a personal, physical sensation of discomfort, while food insecurity refers to a lack of available financial resources for food at the level of the household.”

The researchers that conducted the latest study demarcated between food-insecure households and food-secure households by examining the short form of the US Household Food Security Survey.

Because children have more access to snacks and sweetened beverages, spend more time staring at screens, and being generally sedentary during the summer months, the researchers behind the paper published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics implore parents to keep a vigilant eye on their children’s eating habits, in addition to setting a good example by adhering to a balanced diet themselves. The study reports,  “Whole fruit and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption varied by food insecurity on weekend days during summer months. Because children tend to gain weight during summer months, efforts to increase weekend access to whole fruits and promote water consumption may contribute to weight gain prevention and healthy development, especially for children from food-insecure households.”

A recent study from the London School of Economics and Political Science of over 7, 574 children determined that divorce has a major influence on household food insecurity. Often during times of divorce, families have less money for fruits and vegetables and have to work longer hours which makes them unable to prepare healthy meals for their children. The children in the study group were found to be much more likely to gain weight than other children, the difference was the most profound in children that were subject to divorce under the age of six.

Unfortunately, it’s considerably more expensive to adhere to a healthy diet regimen, but there are ways to consistently obtain all the important nutrients that you and your family need on a budget; little things like buying whole foods as  opposed to more expensive processed products, avoiding name brand products, and establishing a grocery list and making sure you stick to it every week.