Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Oregon Health & Science University
Background: The prevalence of overweight children is rapidly increasing in the United States, causing some to label it as an âepidemicâ (Hill, 2006). Many studies have explored the relationship between risk factors such as physical activity and overweight status in children. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between structured activities and childrenâs overweight status. A recent study by von Hippel et al. (2007) has shown that childrenâs Body Mass Index (BMI) increased at a greater rate during the summer break months than during the months the children were in school, suggesting that structured activities may play a role in determining overweight status in children. Objectives: This study hopes to elucidate patterns of weight-gain in children by exploring the relationship between childrenâs weight status, measured by body mass index, and the duration of summer break and the duration and types of structured activities. Methods: This study employs a secondary data analysis of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort data set (US Dept. of Ed., NCES, 2004). It assesses the potential association between the length of summer break from school, as well as structured non-school summertime activities of children and overweight status of children (defined as children whose body mass index exceeds the 95th percentile on the CDCâs clinical growth charts for children age 2-20 years (Kuczmarski et al, 2000)). Results: The odds of being overweight in third grade for children who had a summer break length of 85-89 days were 0.53 (95% CI: 0.30-0.97) times the odds of being overweight in third grade for children in the reference group (summer break length â¤74 days). No statistically significant differences were found between the reference category and other summer break length categories. No statistically significant differences were found between varying types of activity participation. However, other covariates showed statistically significant odds of predicting overweight status in third grade: African-American children (compared to white, non-Hispanic), OR=1.97 (95% CI=1.32-2.94); and highest socio-economic status (SES) category (compared to lowest), OR=0.51 (95% CI=0.30-0.89). Further, interaction between kindergarten overweight status and gender caused different odds of third grade overweight status: the odds of being overweight in third grade for females who were overweight in kindergarten were 113.7 times the odds of being overweight in third grade for females who were not overweight in kindergarten (p<0.0001); the odds of being overweight in third grade for males who were overweight in kindergarten were 51.6 times the odds of being overweight in third grade for males who were not overweight in kindergarten (p<0.0001). Conclusions: Despite statistically significant differences in third grade overweight status among different summer break lengths, no consistent pattern exists. Further, evaluation of structured summertime activities generated no statistically significant results. Although conclusions about this relationship cannot be drawn from these analyses, the associations of summer break length and structured summertime activities with overweight status in children cannot be overlooked. More detailed analyses are necessary to further elucidate these relationships. Further, interaction between gender and previous overweight status suggests differences in weight gain patterns between males and females.
School of Medicine
Laing, Robert S. III, "The effect of summer break length and structured summertime activities on overweight status of children" (2008). Scholar Archive. 430.