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Does Summertime Weight Gain Undermine Youth Obesity Prevention Efforts?
The Challenge: For many children, summer vacation is a three-month hiatus from the daily responsibilities and scheduled demands they experience during the nine-month school year. Yet the freedoms many adults may remember from their childhood summers — riding bikes to the corner store, walking to the local swimming hole, playing active games with neighborhood friends every day — have become less common among today’s youth.
Make an impact: As policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers continue to work toward reversing the childhood obesity epidemic and ensuring our children grow up at a healthy weight, learning more about what occurs during summer vacation may be critical for informing their efforts.
What the findings are about: This research brief synthesizes what is known about summer weight gain, and how physical activity and diet during the summer may contribute.
- During summer vacation, children gain up to three times as much weight as during the entire school year.
- Children lose fitness improvements they had gained during the school year by the time they returned from summer vacation.
- Poor dietary habits in summer camps negatively impact children.
- Summer program leaders recognize health as important.
- Healthy eating and physical activity standards for day-long summer programs should be implemented by the settings many youth frequent during the summer.
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