Schools may play a helpful role in keeping children at a healthy weight during kindergarten and 1st grade, scholars say.
Researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus and Indiana University in Bloomington have found that children tend to gain weight during the summer between kindergarten and 1st grade.
The researchers examined information collected on 5,380 pupils in kindergarten and 1st grade as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten cohort. That information was gathered in the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 school years by the National Center on Education Statistics, an agency within the Education Department.
According to the report, released in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the body-mass index of children was typically larger and more variable in the summer between kindergarten and 1st grade than it was during the school year.
“It’s basically a big picture of whether schools are part of the problem or part of the solution. In this case, they appear to be part of the solution,” said Paul T. von Hippel, a research statistician at Ohio State and a co-author of the study.
The researchers could not offer a reason why attending school seemed to slow weight gain, but conjectured that it could have to do with the structured school day, scheduled activity periods, and limited opportunities to eat, Mr. von Hippel said.
A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2007 edition of Education Week