Fueling a Healthy Family: Summer Snacks 101

Fueling a Healthy Family: Summer Snacks 101

Child having picnic in park

By Catherine Cioffi, RD, Contributing Blogger

The summer season is in full bloom, which means the days are longer, the weather is warm, and kids get their long-awaited break from school. Although typically we think the summer months means more outdoor playtime and fun in the sun, a new study found that kids tend to gain more weight during these months!

New Research from the CDC
Published this June by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new study found that children in the U.S. are more likely to gain weight during the summer compared to the school year. Researchers reviewed several previous studies that examined weight gain patterns among school-age children and adolescents. Six of the seven studies reviewed showed evidence for more accelerated weight gain during the summer months.

Additionally, the study found that certain subgroups of children experience summer weight gain more than others. For example, African American or Hispanic children appeared to be more at risk, whereas American Indian and Japanese children generally did not show this pattern. Children who are overweight or obese were also found to be at greater risk for gaining those summer pounds.

The researchers concluded that greater boredom and less physical activity along with less access to healthy food and beverages might contribute to weight gain.

Fueling a Healthy Summer
Although summer is a time to relax, this study reminds us that we can’t entirely forget about our health! As parents or caregivers, keeping kids busy and having healthy snacks available are vital for a weight gain-free summer. Whether you are on vacation or on-the-go, use these snacking tips to make healthier choices this summer:

  1. Plan Ahead: packing snacks ahead of time means you won’t be stuck with less healthy, convenience options. Bring baggies of pre-chopped veggies or fruit, trail mix, pretzels or popcorn. Individual Greek yogurts or “to-go” packs of hummus and peanut butter are also handy to have for dipping!
  2. Purchase a cooler: A mini-cooler is a great investment for the summer. It can be packed with cool beverages like water, seltzer and 100% juice to stay hydrated. It also helps to prevent foodborne illness from your perishable snacks that need to stay cold!
  3. Make the healthy choice fun: Often, kids think that healthy eating has to be boring. Getting kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to make them excited about nutrition. Here are easy, portable snacks that you can make together this summer:
    • Frozen fruit “kebabs” with a side of vanilla yogurt for dipping!
    • Whole-wheat cracker stacks with a dollop of reduced-fat ricotta or cottage cheese, sliced tomato, cucumber or other chopped veggies.
    • Graham cracker sandwiches with peanut butter and sliced apples or bananas.
    • Tortilla roll-ups with sliced deli-meat, reduced-fat cheese, and hummus or mustard.
    • Make-your-own trail mix using cereal, toasted oats, dried fruit, and chopped nuts. (Or, try a savory version with popcorn, pretzels, dried edamame or chickpeas!)
    • Mason jar smoothies made with frozen fruit and vegetables, low fat yogurt, and 100% fruit juice.


Looking for more?
In addition to diet and physical activity, keeping hydrated is also important throughout the summer when the weather is hot and we tend to sweat more. For tips on healthy hydration habits, check out these 5 from contributing blogger Stephanie Perruzza.


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