It’s about halfway through summer break, which means that
most children across Rhode Island have settled into a summer routine. The days
are full of sun, fun and delicious treats, but that doesn’t mean that a healthy
lifestyle should be taking a back seat.
In 2016, The Obesity Institute found that from kindergarten
through second grade, obesity among
U.S. children increases during summer vacation. Why does this
happen? A significant reason is that school provides structure for kids: during
the fall, winter and spring, there is a clear schedule detailing when to wake
up, when to work and when to play. This schedule also sets aside specific times
for children to eat and snack.
During the summer, children are at home more often and can
raid the fridge more easily. They are also getting less sleep and more screen
time since they are no longer spending a significant portion of the day inside
Talking about exercise and nutrition isn’t always easy with
kids. One effective conversation starter is “5-2-1 Almost None,” a simple way
for your family to remember healthy habits that can help maintain a healthy
weight this summer.
5-2-1 Almost None stands for 5 servings of fruits and
vegetables, 2 hours of screen time, 1 hour of physical activity and almost no
sugary drinks. Here’s how to use 5-2-1 Almost None to keep kids on track during
their summer break:
5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day
It’s a timeless piece of advice: Ensure that your child is
eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy green vegetables.
These sources of food are high in nutrients and will give your child the energy
they need when they’re enjoying the outdoors. Keep cut fruit available when
your child is looking for a quick snack.
Maximum 2 hours of screen time
show that children ages 8 to 10 spend about six hours per day in
front of a screen, four of which are spent watching television. The CDC
recommends a limit of one or two hours of screen time per day. Encourage your
child to pursue other types of fun involving physical activity such as a sports
team or club.
At least 1 hour of physical activity
The CDC also
recommends that children and adolescents perform 60 minutes or more
of physical activity each day. We wait all year for the summer weather, so we
should encourage our kids to go outside – wearing sunscreen! - and enjoy
Exercise is a great activity to do together as a family. The
best way to encourage your kids to live a healthy life is to lead by
example. Start out easy and see how much more active everyone becomes as
the summer goes on! It can be as simple as walking the dog, going to the park
and shooting hoops, or taking a bike ride to your local swimming pool or beach.
Almost none: sugary drinks
Too many sugary drinks can lead to more serious health
problems such as dental cavities and unwanted weight gain. Water and low-fat
milk are excellent substitutes for sugary energy drinks and soda. Make sure
that water is readily available in the refrigerator, as well as easy to grab on
the go. If your child is heading outside for a day of play, ensure that they
are well hydrated throughout the day.
It’s always helpful to check the nutrition facts on any
juice drinks. Be sure that your child is drinking 100% juice with no added
sugar, but not too much! New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics
recommend no fruit juice for children younger than age 1, four to six ounces
for children between 4 and 6 years old, and no more than one cup per day for
children between 7 and 18 years old.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is committed to
addressing wellness issues such as child obesity. 5-2-1 Almost None is an
important step in helping children get and stay healthy for the rest of their
lives. Better yet, you can follow the 5-2-1 Almost None rules during the school
year to ensure that your family maintains a healthy lifestyle all year long.