Children end up consuming more calories through post-game snacks than they burn while playing

Washington D.C. [USA], Feb 28 (ANI): Post-game sugar-rich snacks like chocolates or children's favourite munch fondly brought to them by parents can be harmful for children's health due to calorie imbalance, suggests new research.

A new study led by Brigham Young University public health researchers finds the number of calories kids consume from post-game snacks far exceeds the number of calories they actually burn playing in the game.

"Kids are getting inundated with snack culture all the time -- celebrations at school, at birthday parties and youth sports games," said senior study author and BYU professor Lori Spruance. "We don't need to load children up with sugar after a game too."

For the study, Spruance and her students observed 3rd and 4th graders over 189 games of soccer, flag football, baseball and softball, tracking both their physical activity and the treats they consumed. They found parents brought post-game snacks 80 percent of the time, with almost 90% of the post-game drinks being sugar-sweetened.

Their physical activity was tracked using the SOFIT method, wherein a child's activity was tracked on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = nothing; 5 = running) every 10 seconds.

The researchers found the average energy expenditure for children observed was 170 calories per game while the average caloric intake from post-game snacks was 213 calories.

The average amount of sugar consumed post-game was a staggering 26.4 grams -- the total daily recommendation for kids is just 25 grams -- with sugary drinks being the biggest culprits. (Capri Sun drinks and Kool-Aid Jammers were the most common drinks and baked goods were the most common snacks.)

The study also found children averaged just 27 minutes of activity per game, with soccer players being the most active and softball players being the least active. Research shows children should have 60 minutes of physical activity per day starting around age 5.

Study authors said the 43 extra calories the children are gaining may not sound like much, but if kids are playing a game or two a week, it could mean thousands of extra sugary calories a year.

"So many kids are at games just to get their treat afterwards, which really isn't helping to develop healthy habits long term," Spruance said. "The reward should be, 'I got to have fun, I got to run around with my friend or score a goal.'"

Spruance and co-authors said youth sports programmes would benefit from an intervention aimed at the food environment -- and they're happy to help with that intervention. (ANI)