The leader of the postgame snack session has a big responsibility. This is the parent in charge of stepping the snack game up by bringing everything from Capri Sun and mini oranges to homemade cookies and sodas. This all sounds like a dream to the little sportster, but your child could actually be taking in more calories than they burned while playing the game.
A new study by Brigham Young University public health researchers shows that most of the snacks consumed by kids after sporting events have more calories than the kids exerted in the game. This research showed children burned about 170 calories per game, but usually ate an average of 213 calories after the game. The sugar consumed was on average about 26.4 grams.
The Numbers In The Truth
The problem isn’t the snacks. It’s more about the physical activity during the game. Most of the kids only play an average of 27 minutes in the games. In more sedentary games like baseball, the kids are standing around even more. The recommendation of children each day for physical activity is 60 minutes. This means even during a sporting activity they may not get in their recommended time. Many children are indulging in a postgame snack even when they haven’t burned off those calories. Many experts say the postgame snack should be reserved for those kids that play high level, high intensity sports for several hours per day.
Breaking It Down
So children consumed that average of 26.4 grams of sugar after a game. The total daily recommendation for kids is just 25 grams of sugar. Though children are only getting an extra on average of about 43 extra calories, it could be an issue. This is because games aren’t always just played once a week. If a child has a few games a week, this could mean thousands of extra calories a year.
Many parents remember the glory of the postgame snack when they were young sportsters. The problem is that decades ago it was normal to give as a snack apple slices and water. These days it’s moved far past this. When one parent brings in a high sugar snack, the kids fall in love with it. They want more and more. Many parents wish to reward the child for playing hard. They think fun snacks are the way to go. Fun often means high calorie. Sometimes parents bring donuts, chips, cupcakes and/or soda.
Small Snacks And Health
The calories in small snacks and sugary drinks add up. Obesity rates in children are growing each day. This doesn’t mean a little snack after one game will lead to obesity, but it could become a problem over time. Children aren’t getting enough physical activity to warrant such snacks. They eat more calories than they can burn. Most parents have well intentions when giving their children postgame snacks. They may not realize it could do harm. It could be teaching some kids that it’s okay to make bad food choices after just a little physical activity. This could stay with the child into adulthood when they make choices on their own.
Helping Kids Snack Smarter
The power is in the hands of the parents. They don’t have to be the cool parent handing out sugary goods. They can hand out goodies that taste good and are good for the children after a game. The kids need water. They can give out fun tasting flavored water for an extra twist. Orange slices are small, taste great and pack a punch of hydration. Fruit snacks are an easy, cool thing to give as snacks. They have a sweet taste, yet are nutritious. No one is telling parents they have to bring brussel sprouts so the children as a postgame snack. Granola bars, yogurt and fig cookies are also great alternatives. The only main rule to stick to is no peanuts because sometimes children have allergies.
Changing The Snack Culture
One parent might not make a difference in youth sports programs. From this study alone, teams are working on providing fact sheets to Parks and Recreation departments about their findings. They hope these departments will share this information with parents. Parents don’t have to make drastic changes. They can make small changes in the snacks they bring leading to healthier sports stars. When children are done with a game, parents can encourage healthy decisions. They can have a healthy post game snack then go with their family for a nutritious post game meal. It’s up to each family and each parent to guide the kids in the right direction.
Overall, the postgame snack has changed over time. Kids aren’t as active as they once were on the field. Yes, children are children who have high metabolism. The problem is they expect sugary snacks and drinks after minimal playing time. It could be fine for now, but doesn’t need to be a habit they take into adulthood.