Objective: To examine seasonal variation in weight gain across elementary school (kindergarten-5th grade) among children who are healthy weight, overweight, or obese and from different racial and ethnic groups.
Methods: The sample included 7,599 ethnically diverse students ages 5-7 years at baseline (Caucasian: 21.1%, Black: 36.2%, Hispanic: 26.0%, Asian 16.7%). Heights and weights were measured by school nurses at the beginning and end of each school year from kindergarten through the beginning of 5th grade.
Results: Beginning the summer after 1st grade, all children demonstrated a pattern of standardized BMI (zBMI) increases during the summer (0.04 to 0.09) and zBMI decreases across the school years (-0.06 to 0.00; P<0.0001). Hispanic children and children who were overweight and obese exhibited this pattern in kindergarten while children of other ethnicities and with a healthy weight did not (P<0.0001).
Conclusions: Beginning the summer after 1st grade, a consistent pattern of relative weight gain during the summer months (Δ in BMI percentile=1.04) and weight loss during the school year (Δ in BMI percentile=-0.34) emerged. This pattern appeared earlier for children who were overweight, obese, or Hispanic. These findings suggest a need to better understand the causes of the problematic increases in weight during the summer.
© 2014 The Obesity Society.