Black girls and boys are more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white children, according to the Office of Minority Health.

Although Christmas time is normally considered the most dangerous for weight gain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that children are more likely to gain weight during the summer months. Time spent indoors, greater access to snacks and the loss of a strict daily routine can make it easy to pack on the pounds.

Luckily, there is plenty that moms can do to keep their kids healthy, happy and active during the summer.

1. Get Outside

About half of African-American women are obese, compared to 30 percent of white women. Research suggests the problem starts early, and it may be connected to girls giving up exercise. Children are recommended to get around an hour of exercise per day, yet black girls are more likely to say they have had no physical activity in the previous week. 

An American Journal of Preventive Medicine study from 2013 found that children who live in areas with more parks and green spaces enjoy 46 percent more moderate or physical activity than kids who don’t have access to these spaces.

Get outside this summer!

Whether you live on the beach or near a forest, plan some fun days outdoors for the whole family. Studies have shown that you burn more calories when exercising outdoors than indoors due to factors such as wind resistance and changes in the terrain. If you live near the beach, try to take your kids for a sunrise walk by the seashore. Play games and join your kids for a fun swimming race.

Just remember to keep kids safe in the sun by using a good physical sunblock and reapplying it every few hours.

2. Offer Easy Vegan Snacks

A CDC report indicated that Hispanic teens and non-Hispanic black students in grades 9 through 12 eat the least amount of vegetables a day. Studies have shown that a vegan diet, which is completely plant-based, can be particularly effective at weight loss.

Veganism doesn’t have to be radical, either. Try something simple like lovely crudites with hummus or low-calorie yogurt dip. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, ensuring kids feel full throughout the day.

When choosing fruit, opt for those which are low on the glycemic index. These include strawberries, dried apricots, apples, oranges, and peaches.

3. Try Homemade Ice Cream

Raw ice cream, made with nut milk and sweetened with healthy sugar alternatives, is an excellent substitute to sugar-rich, dairy varieties.

It has a significantly lower caloric count. If you don’t have an ice cream machine at home, preparing a delicious soft-serve ice cream is as easy as this: freeze three or four bananas and, in a frozen state, put them through a juicer. The result will be sinfully smooth ‘ice cream’ that contains only one ingredient.

4. Establish a Routine

Fill your child’s day with intellectual and physical stimulation to avoid a hours of them sitting at home in front of the television. You can sign them up for summer sports classes available in your neighborhood. If you have free outdoor yoga nearby, enjoy a session with your child. Yoga will help your child battle stress, therefore keeping stress-related eating at bay.

5. Sleep and Meditation

White children are more likely than black children to have strict bedtime routines, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This pattern could have a big effect on their health, since sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain.

A summer sleep routine can also include meditation, a cool summer bath with calming essential oils such as lavender and progressive muscle relaxation. The latter simply involves tensing up your muscles — starting at your toes and going all the way up to your head. First, tense the muscles for various seconds then relax.

To keep kids light on their feet on the summer, offer consistent physical activity and healthy foods that keep them energetic throughout the day.

From preparing raw ice cream to leading a bedtime breathing session, you can demonstrate to them the importance of staying healthy and active. When you can, expose children to the great outdoors. Nature is a perfect setting for games and other activities that burn calories and get those little hearts racing!

Eva Hurst is a freelance blogger who covers health and advocacy. She can be reached on Twitter at @EvaHursty.

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