Post-Game Snacks Are Killing Some Benefits of Kids’ Sports
It sure doesn't take long to wipe out the benefits of exercise. If the kids spend an hour or two playing a softball game and chase that with a bag of chips and a sugary sports drink, they're probably taking in more calories than they burn.
If you're a parent of a kid that plays sports, you've probably been on snack duty. It stops somewhere around age 10, but younger kids always get a snack after playing soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball, or just about any sport that involves a ball and a team. And sometimes they get more excited about the mini-muffins after the game than they do about the win.
Some researchers at BYU said it's true that kids get more calories from the snacks they eat after sports than they burn while playing, and that could add up to thousands of extra calories a year. Oh boy. They tracked the activity levels of third and fourth-graders during 189 games of soccer, flag football, baseball, and softball, along with their post-game snacks. The kids burned an average of 170 calories per game, and they took in an average of 213 calories afterward. Sweet drinks were included in 90 percent of the snacks, and each one packed about 25 grams of sugar.
One time a parent on my daughter's team brought donuts as the snack and passed those out when the game ended at 8:30 pm. People! That's not an ideal time to be eatin' sugar, so I didn't let my daughter take one. I know that's so mean, but she woke up without a stomach ache.
If I'm the snack-bringer, I usually try to bring Gatorade Zero or something with very little sugar, along with a semi-healthy granola bar or Goldfish. Kids don't want an apple after a game, unfortunately, so snack-bringers do have their challenges. And here's another thing. Parents usually give leftover snacks to siblings, and the siblings didn't do squat! My other two daughters mooch their way to those extra 213 calories without thinking twice.
Maybe things balance out. If the kids eat chips right after a morning game, then they're not as hungry for lunch and they'll eat less then, who knows. It's something to watch over the next few weeks as spring sports get cranked up around the Treasure Valley. See you at the softball fields, with apples and blueberries this time.