Children and teens enjoying their summer break are at a higher risk of obesity, a new study suggests.
Outside of the school environment that keeps children active and to the best of efforts out of strengthening the obesity statistics, children tend to slack.
Of course all-time favorites such as binge television watching, hours spent in front of the computer, little exercise and less healthy eating as parental supervision dwindles are taking their toll.
Associate Professor Claire Wang of the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the U.S., where the study was conducted, stated:
“We see a need for school-based obesity prevention efforts to go beyond the school day and the school year”.
According to the researcher, school remains the key factor in shaping healthy behaviour in terms of nutrition and lifestyle choices in order to prevent children obesity. Particularly in the difficult transition period between school and summer break.
The study drew on data retrieved from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 2003 and 2008. The subjects of the study were students from 1st to 12th grade. In total, the study drew on data gathered on 6,453 children and teens.
The study analyzed three categories throughout summer break and school year. These were the total consumption of calories per day, the total daily vegetable consumption, as well as the daily total of added sugar.
Screen time, physical activity and other factors were also pitched against the previous three categories. The researchers also looked at the household’s income comparative to the poverty line.
This last factor did not stem considerable differences. Whether children came from a below poverty line household or one that was situated above the poverty line, behaviours leading to the increase of obesity risk were similar.
The researchers found that during summer break, students would average 20 extra minutes of screen time. 3 added ounces of sugar coming from beverages were also added to the risk factors.
Exercising averaged extra five minutes during summer break, with high schoolers leading the top, yet not meeting governmental recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.
Students coming from low income households exercised far less than their medium to high income peers. Particularly female students from low income households were found to exercise the least during summer break.
With student behavior left unchecked during summer break, the risk of obesity increases drastically. Low levels of exercise coupled with high amounts of sugar, calories and fats spell trouble for students of all ages.
For this reason, the study aims to provide a solid base for policy making that could fill the gap between the school year and summer break in terms of sustained efforts to combat child and teen obesity.
Photo Credits thestar.com