Healthy summer in Lee’s Summit

Lee's Summit JournalJuly 16, 2014 

How great do our kids have it? There’s so much to do in Lee’s Summit in summertime, no parent should ever hear an utterance of “I’m bored” from their youngsters until at least Labor Day.

Kids have access to all kinds of sports and activities, swimming pools, fantastic parks, nature trails and city-sponsored events to fill their days, and they’ll be bouncing around the neighborhood with their friends until sundown every night.

So as we move into the peak of summer, consider the other side of the fun – the heat and humidity, mosquitoes and ticks, the dangers associated with biking and swimming, and the ice cream. “What? Wait. The ice cream?” you ask.

The truth is today we do better than ever keeping our kids safe. We don’t think twice about applying sunscreen and bug spray, and making sure our kids wear bike helmets and floatation, if they need it, around water. In other words, we’re pretty good about thinking in the short term.

But today, we’re not doing as well at keeping our kids safe tomorrow. Specifically, we’re not doing enough to ensure that our kids become healthy adults by creating healthy eating habits. So is encouraging parents to be mindful of their kids’ eating habits in the middle of summer kind of like starting a diet on Thanksgiving Day? Not at all. And here are just a few summer tips that will go a long way in setting your kids down a healthy track:

Water instead of sugary drinks. Nothing hydrates like good old-fashioned water. Watch out – fruit juice boxes and sports drinks are just as sugary as soda pop.

Fruit & Veggies. Nothing beats a ripe Missouri peach in season. The Lee’s Summit Farmers Market is a great spot to grab some this summer. Have other fruits and veggies on hand. Make your own smoothies together.

Portion sizes. The helmet-sundae helmet fit nicely over a fist 30 years ago. Now it’ll fit a small head. Split those huge portions.

Awareness. Get out a pencil and write down all the places your child has access to junk food. Surprised?

Parents are in charge. The sunscreen and bike helmet aren’t optional, and neither is healthy eating. Your kids will thank you later.

Of course, ice cream was invented for summer, so please go enjoy a scoop of Lee’s Summit’s finest and have a great summer.


Mark Van Blaricum is a health care lawyer for the Forbes Law Group in Overland Park. Mark is a guest author for the Health Education Advisory Board, a Mayor-appointed, volunteer board that promotes and advocates community health by assessing health issues, educating the public and government agencies, developing plans to address health issues, encouraging partnerships and evaluating the outcomes.

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