The State of the Summer: a Review of Child Summer Weight Gain and Efforts to Prevent It

Curr Obes Rep. 2018 Jun;7(2):112-121. doi: 10.1007/s13679-018-0305-z.


Purpose of review: Accumulating evidence shows that children in the USA gain weight more rapidly during the summer, when school is not in session. This narrative review spanning 2007 to 2017 summarizes efforts to characterize the problem, identify key determinants, and intervene to prevent excess summer weight gain.

Recent findings: Summer weight gain remains a concern for elementary-age youth. Few studies have examined its determinants, but unfavorable summertime shifts in diet, physical activity, sedentary time, screen media use, and sleep have been reported. Increased structure is thought to protect against summer weight gain. Interventions to support physical activity and nutrition during the summer show promise, though large-scale impact on weight outcomes remains to be seen. Supporting health behaviors during the summer remains a priority for obesity prevention researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. Strategies to expand access to structured programs and reach beyond such programs to improve behaviors at home are of particular importance.

Keywords: Child obesity; Out of school time; Seasonal weight gain; Summer weight gain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control*
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Pediatric Obesity / therapy
  • Risk
  • Seasons
  • Sleep
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Reduction Programs / trends