Christine Poulos, MD
Summer and the "Freshman 15"
I would laugh at the expression "Freshman 15", of course until I experienced it myself! As many of you know, it refers to the 15 pound weight gain most freshman in college experience after leaving home. The main cause is too much junk food, eating late at night, lack of exercise, sitting around studying, and too much beer??!
Well over the last few years, I've noticed a new phenomenon in our children - the "Summer 15". Much like the "Freshman 15", the "Summer 15" is due to lack of activity and eating too much junk food . In my 24 years of experience, children used to slim down for the summer, then gain weight in the winter. It was a pretty typical pattern. Now, the reverse is happening! Children are gaining weight over the summer, then expecting to lose it when they go back to school. The little bit of physical exercise from gym class does not seem to make up for the amount of inactivity that occurs over the summer. Honestly, few children lose weight when school starts.
I completely understand why this happens now and I don't have all the answers nor do I blame parents. Parents work and don't want their children outside when they are not home, unlike when I was younger and would walk miles to the pool without any parental supervision. Also, there is video gaming that takes up most of the day into the night for some kids. They connect with friends via social media - no need to walk to your friend's house or ride your bike there! Also, who doesn't like to binge eat all your favorite snacks in the summer?
So what can we do as parents? First, try to get your children outside!!!! If you work, during the day, take your child out when you get home. Walk the dog, go for a bike ride, or late night swim at the public pool. Aim for 1 hour of exercise/day. Secondly, put parental controls and timers on social media, video gaming, and your Wifi. Lastly, don't buy junk food for your house - it's just too tempting! Try having healthy snacks around for your children to eat during the day when they are home. If we work together, we can beat the "Summer 15"!