Jun 23, 2014 7:00 AM

Author: Marissa Villasenor

They’re summer staples: ice cream, corn dogs and Slurpees. But too much of these delectable treats could hijack your child’s health and result in some extra pounds.

Kids are extra vulnerable during the summer recess. Instead of getting outside and engaging in physical activity, the hot weather may send kids running inside where they participate in more sedentary activities like playing video games and watching television.

Along with reaching for the remote, kids will gravitate toward snacking—especially high-calorie treats.

Take ice cream for example, a sundae with all the fixings could set a child back 1,250 calories and include up to 81 grams of fat and 91 grams of sugar.

Remember, liquid calories count too.

If a Slurpee sounds refreshing, think again. A cherry Slurpee can contain up to 240 calories and 64 grams of sugar. 

“We’re thirstier in the summer,” said Julie Metos, PhD, RD, an assistant professor and interim chair of the Division of Nutrition at the University of Utah College of Health. “But keep in mind these cold drinks are just sugar water,” she said.

A day at the amusement park or local fair wouldn’t be complete without a corn dog and fries, right? Well, maybe not. The sodium levels of this combo are dangerously high at 1,600 milligrams of sodium.

“In today’s culture we always seem to want to give our kids a treat,” she said, “I think it’s important to tell kids this is a special occasion - let’s pick one thing.”

Instead, Metos recommends fresh fruit and homemade options. Here are some of her favorites:

  • Frozen fruit: Lay the fruit on a cookie sheet and freeze them. They’re a great substitution for popsicles.
  • Keep water handy to avoid buying soda, lemonade, or fruit drinks. Or, concoct a refreshing, low-sugar spritzer with equal parts 100% fruit juice and club soda. You can even slice up fruit and add it to water.
  • Whole fresh strawberries: dip them in melted dark chocolate for a delectable treat.

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