Beware This Summer Health Risk

Posted 06/27/2012 | By HealthCorps

When the warm weather hits there’s lots of discussion about allergies and skin care and protection and the danger of tics and water safety. But looming equally large – no pun intended – is the danger of weight gain directly related to school being out. Despite the lack of adequate PE and lots of complaints about breakfast and lunch school programs, there is a certain discipline to being in school. The food served is portion controlled and calorie controlled to a certain extent, even if experts feel the need for healthier offerings and the hours you sit in a classroom, despite being sedentary, do not involve mindless eating.

Take a kid out of school and fail to provide a formal program of learning and or activity, and those kids are now mostly on their own. They will sit and watch TV, text, play video games, text some more and forage for food constantly. Boredom and lack of formal planning means mindless eating and that translates to weight gain, in a population of kids already weight challenged. The only running they may do is to the ice cream truck that passes by the house daily!! So summer means an uptick in health problems associated with weight gain. What can a kid/teen do?

Become a healthy foodie – go online, find healthy recipes for your favorite snacks and entrees, create a shopping list and hit the supermarket. Your local store may even offer free weekly classes, special shop and learn opportunities or other cooking programs. If you learn to cook healthy you will be less likely to pack on extra pounds.

Pick up a sport or fitness activity – Teens can take everything from kickboxing to Zumba or if budgets are tight, you can go online and search running programs, weight training workout programs. There may be a local public pool in your neighborhood or a “Y” that has budget friendly memberships. Local gyms also offer 3-7 day passes so you can try out equipment, watching others and learning. Some also offer one free personal training session – again, a great opportunity to learn. A jump rope is cheap and a very effective way to get fit. Remember it’s used by the most successful boxers!!

Plant a neighborhood or local garden – Even a window box herb garden can allow you to learn about different flavors that you can cook with. Great plants for now that will ripen by mid-August include peas, bok choy, spinach, lettuce.

Parents should leave prepared healthy snacks like home made trail mix with cereal, dried fruit and nuts, clean and cut up fruit and vegetables, low fat dairy products like yogurt cups, sandwich halves or wraps filled with beans-shredded vegetables and low fat cheese, and frozen grapes and berries which are refreshing in the hot weather. Have family activities that revolve around fitness and healthy food. When it comes to a healthier summer- planning is key!!

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