CHASP faculty associate Dr. Paul von Hippel’s newest paper, From Kindergarten Through Second Grade, U.S. Children’s Obesity Prevalence Grows Only During Summer Vacations, was published in the journal, Obesity, about a study examining if the rates of childhood obesity grow faster during the school year or during summer vacation. This study builds on von Hippel’s previous work on childhood obesity, published in 2007 in the American Journal of Public Health.
The findings, as described by The University of Texas at Austin News outlet:
- Between the start of kindergarten and the end of second grade, the prevalence of obesity increased from 8.9 percent to 11.5 percent, and the prevalence of overweight children increased from 23.3 percent to 28.7 percent.
- All of the increase occurred during summer vacations. During the school years, overweight prevalence did not change, and obesity prevalence slightly declined.
- Because prevalence increases during the summer, it appears that major risk factors lie outside of schools.
The abstract can be found below and with the full paper at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21613/full
- UT Austin News: Childhood Obesity and Overweight Rates Rise Only During Summer Break, Not During School Year, Research Shows
- NPR: Children Gain Weight Faster Over Summer Break Than In School
- WebMD: Lazy Summer Days Mean Weight Gain for Young Kids
- NY Times: For Schoolchildren, Weights Rise Along With Summer Temperatures
- ACSH: For Little Kids, School’s Healthier than Summers at Home
- Yahoo News: Summer breaks lead to childhood obesity, not school year
- Medscape: Childhood Obesity Rates Rise in Summer Holidays, Not School Year
- Austin360: Will winter break cause your kids to gain weight? Study from University of Texas would say so
- InForum: Parents, summer is when kids are likely to add on pounds
- Reuters: Summer may be the most fattening time of year for kids
To assess the relative importance of school and nonschool risk factors, this study estimated whether overweight and obesity prevalence grows faster during the school year or during summer vacation.
In the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010–11, a nationally representative complex random sample of 18,170 U.S. children was followed from the fall of kindergarten in 2010 through the spring of second grade in 2013. Children’s weight and heights were measured in schools each fall and spring. A multilevel growth model was used to estimate growth in mean BMI, overweight prevalence, and obesity prevalence during each summer and each school year.
From the fall of kindergarten to the spring of second grade, the prevalence of obesity increased from 8.9% to 11.5%, and the prevalence of overweight increased from 23.3% to 28.7%. All of the increase in prevalence occurred during the two summer vacations; no increase occurred during any of the three school years.
The risk of obesity is higher when children are out of school than when they are in school.