YOUR LIFE YOUR HEALTH

Study Shows Children Eat More Calories In Post-Game Snacks Than They Expend On The Field

Jun 18, 2021, 7:40 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2021, 12:12 am

KAYSVILLE, Utah — A BYU study shows kids eat more calories in post-game snacks than they burn during the actual game. With a childhood obesity rate of 19 percent in the United States, dieticians are concerned.

One Utah dad and coach said he is keeping health a priority on the field.

Steve Harris of Kaysville loves his children and sports, making him the perfect coach for all four of his children’s teams — soccer, basketball and baseball.

He said they’ve created lots of memories together over the years.

“I wanted my kids to grow up being, ‘Yeah, Dad was there. He was involved with us, having fun with us, playing sports,’” he said.

Harris is also a fifth grade teacher.

“I see kids get unhealthy snacks all the time,” he said. “Kids bring snacks for birthdays, treats, whatever.”

Harris and his wife, who is a nurse, decided the soccer field didn’t need more sweets.

“We’re having two, three games a week, you know, so if they have those unhealthy snacks, that’s two, three times a week… they’re getting it,” he said.

So he implemented “the halftime fruit.”

“[It] gives them some natural sugars so that they have more energy for the second half of the game, because they’re already tired then,” he described.

Tara Finnerty, a pediatric dietician with Intermountain Healthcaresaid feeding athletes treats is counterproductive.

“We’re kind of negating those benefits by providing foods with high sugar, processed foods — they’re loaded with calories that are really, actually unnecessary,” she said.

Instead, opt for whole foods and water, she encouraged.

“You can get that same benefit from oranges and apples and bananas, maybe some higher protein foods like peanut butter and yogurt, string cheese, hummus with vegetables, even air popped popcorn” she said.

A recent study by the American Journal of Health Behavior found, on average, children are only getting 27 minutes of physical activity per game.

Finnerty argued they’re just not exercising long enough to add the extra calories.

“They’re consuming far more calories than they’re actually burning during these physical activities,” she said.

For example, she said most 20 ounce sports drinks contain about a 1/4 cup of sugar.

While Finnerty said parents don’t need to count their child’s calories, they can still be mindful.

“Kids are growing. We need to fuel their bodies in a healthy way,” she said, creating healthy habits while they’re young. “We need to nourish their body, not just give them this endless supply of sugary calories or empty calories.”

She encouraged people to look at how often they are consuming these foods and identify where they can swap the treats out for healthier options.

“The special occasions are turning into daily events,” she said. “And then the next day, it’s the family barbecue, and the next day it’s a holiday… and pretty soon it’s we’re using food for every event — good and bad.”

Harris said his teams have responded well to the adjustment.

“Parents have loved it. They think it’s a great idea because it’s promoting healthy eating,” he said. “It’s just been the expectation, like that’s what we do. And really, I’ve found that kids are happy as long as they’re getting something.”

Harris has already signed up to coach all of his children’s teams again next year.

“Oh, it’s the best. That’s what life’s all about — seeing your kids grow up, having fun and then getting to mesh that with sports… it’s a win-win for me,” he said.

The US dietary guidelines recommend children younger than two years should not be fed foods or beverages with added sugars at all.

Finnerty suggested limiting added sugar intake for all children in general.

“It truly is addicting and so they kind of just get this ongoing sweet tooth,” she said.

She said this will help prevent long-term illnesses related to obesity like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, cancers and even dementia.

Finnerty also said when kids graze on unhealthy foods, it can spoil their appetite before dinner time and prevent them from getting the nutrients they need.

“It really does impair their appetite to want to eat healthier foods at the mealtime,” she said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

New mom Michelle Jackson had problems breastfeeding little Jason so she called a lactation consulta...
Ayanna Likens

Some moms struggle with breastfeeding, here are some helpful tips

August is breastfeeding awareness month, and for some mothers who want to breastfeed, it doesn’t come easy. Intermountain Healthcare shares some tips on how to help.
7 days ago
...
Ayanna Likens

Three healthy back-to-school lunches using the same ingredients

Chef Christopher Delissio with Intermountain shares three healthy lunches to put in your kid’s school lunch box, all using the same ingredients.
13 days ago
Dr. Randa Tao is the lead researcher on the study at the Huntsman Cancer Institute....
Jed Boal

Researchers find patients with specific cancer at higher risk for mental health issues

New research out of Huntsman Cancer Institute reveals that Hodgkin lymphoma patients and survivors are more likely to suffer from mental health and substance abuse disorders than the general population.
15 days ago
5-year-old Elodie gets immunized before she begins kindergarten. (KSL TV)...
Ayanna Likens

Utah doctor talks about how important vaccinations are for kids heading back to school

School is just around the corner and if you have kids entering kindergarten or seventh grade, that means it’s time to get them immunized.
21 days ago
Hillary Ramone's son Parker stops for a water break while at the park....
Ayanna Likens

Proper hydration is about more than just drinking water

Intermountain doctors share tips on how to keep you and your kids hydrated in Utah’s high heat.
27 days ago
When the UV Index is seven or higher you are at a higher risk for skin cancer. Use sunscreen or con...
Ayanna Likens

Staying safe in the sun: Don’t forget to check the UV Index

Utah has the highest rate of melanoma in the nation with 42 cases per 100,000 people, double the national average. That’s why doctors at Intermountain Medical Center said you need to protect yourself when headed outside.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Study Shows Children Eat More Calories In Post-Game Snacks Than They Expend On The Field