Child Obesity Rates Increase Over The Summer, Not The School Year

By Alex Purcell

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It turns out that child obesity isn’t just a result of the mystery meat in school cafeteria food.

New research done by Paul von Hippel, an associate professor of public affairs at the LBJ School, presents evidence that most children from kindergarten to second grade see the biggest increase of BMI over summer break rather than during the school session.

Reddit / Giphy

Reddit / Giphy

The study, taken from a sample of 18,170 children, was held over a span of three years on a national scale. The professor found that any and all of the weight gain in the children occurred during the two summer breaks rather than during the three school years. From his research, he also discovered that the prevalence of obesity increased from 8.9 percent to 11.5 percent over the kindergarten-second grade time span.

The results pose an important point. School lunches aren’t the leading cause behind the onset of childhood obesity- the home refrigerator is.

Von Hippel believes that a change in general food-eating habits is crucial to the health and well-being of children across the country. The current (and common) approach is to influence the foods children eat at school, but the method should be flipped around by creating a system of health education taught for school behavior AND home behavior. Other strategies include increasing promotion of outdoor activities over the summer and providing a program to teach parents about nutrition.

“I wish I could say that changes schools have made over the last decade are helping to reduce obesity,” Von Hippel said, “but they’re not… we can’t make a dent in this problem if we continue to focus on school food and physical education programs that affect children only when they’re at school.”



To learn more, read the UT News overview HERE.