Study shows kids consume more sugar in summer

Mon 7-8-2019

A new study shows Minnesota children from households that experience food insecurity drink more sugary beverages during the summer months, especially on the weekends. Study author Jiwoo Lee with the University of Minnesota says lower-income children have the benefit of nutritionally-balanced meals at school during much of the year. But many don't use similar programs offered in the summer, and they end up eating far less nutritious food than kids from homes where food scarcity isn't an issue.


"Only 22 percent of children who receive meals though the school lunch program use the summer food service programs. So, that indicates a limited reach and under-utilization as well."

Lee's study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, included children ages eight through 12. Lee believes the research suggests nutrition-assistance programs are needed year-round, and could also improve weekend meals for children from families who don't always have enough money for food.


Summer traditionally means kids playing outdoors and getting lots of exercise. But Lee says it's also when schedules are more relaxed, and kids spend more time on digital devices – and then, reach for sugary foods and drinks.


"Soda would be one of the main sources of sugar-sweetened beverages that we looked at, and I think that's important to note, because summer is a time that kids tend to gain weight."

Research indicates about 10 percent of Minnesota's young people ages 10 to 17 are considered obese. That is well below the national average of nearly 16 percent – but triple what the state's obesity rate for children was 40 years ago.