Fuel kids for summer fun and fitness

 

Ads for fast foods, snack foods, sweetened cereals and sugary drinks are frequently blamed for fueling the obesity epidemic among kids in the U. S.   But a Federal Trade Commission study found these might not be the culprits they're made out to be.   Using Nielsen Monitor-Plus/Nielsen Media Research data, the researchers determined children's exposure to television advertising.

Of the 25,600 TV ads 2 to 11 year old children see in a year, only 5,500 (22%) are food ads, 9% fewer than kids saw in 1977.   The majority (78%) are for non-food products with 43% promoting sedentary activity: ads for TV programs, screen/audio entertainment, games, toys and hobbies.   Ads that encourage kids to be active, like those for sports and exercise equipment, make up for less than 1% of ads kids see.

Summer can pose extra challenges for parents in encouraging healthy habits for kids.   In fact, an Ohio State University found that children gain more weight in the summer than during the school year.   But parents can help their children eat healthfully and burn more calories while out of school by using a few simple strategies:

Snack Smart

Stock the refrigerator and pantry with baked or low fat chips, pretzels and crackers; lower fat cookies like vanilla wafers, graham crackers and Fig Newtons; fresh, frozen or small cans of fruit; baby carrots; low fat cheese like mozzarella string cheese; low fat yogurt, pudding cups, ice cream and frozen yogurt.

Pare Portions

To keep portions under control buy the 100-calorie packages of cookies and crackers (Oreo, Chips Ahoy and Cheese Nips Thin Crisps, Ritz Snack Mix); 4-ounce pudding, ice cream and fruit cups; and 1-ounce bags of pretzels and baked chips.   Or use the big packages and create your own kid-size snacks by filling small plastic zip bags with baby carrots, grapes, watermelon chunks, animal crackers, pretzels or low-fat popcorn.

Fill up on Fluid

Hot summer days make it even more important for kids to get plenty of fluid to keep hydrated, at least 8 to 10 cups a day including those at meals.   Contrary to popular belief research shows that all beverages, even those with caffeine, are just as hydrating as water.   Studies also find that children drink 45% to 50% more liquid when it’s flavored, so offer them beverages they enjoy.   Options include small bottles of juice, soft drinks in 100-calorie cans, and low-fat plain or chocolate milk, or, for kids who need to watch calories, diet soft drinks or fruit flavored bottled water.

Add Activity

Summer is a great time to get the whole family active.   Instead of watching TV or playing video games, encourage kids to get outside and play in the yard or park, swim at the pool, walk the dog, ride a bike, or play tennis, golf and baseball.   When planning your vacation, consider active ones like camping, hiking, water skiing or sightseeing trips that require lots of walking.

So don't let this summer go to your family's waist.    There's no better time to be active together, plan, shop and prepare meals together and all get on track for a healthier future.

One Comment

  1. This is a great article. We are struggling with healthy snacks in our household, especially when mom and dad are not home. I buy them, stock them, prepare them but getting them to EAT them is a different story. Thanks for the tips!

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