Does Homework Contribute to Childhood Obesity?

by Nicole Etolen


Childhood obesity is a major concern in many parts of the world. Finding ways to help prevent it requires a little creativity and a lot of reexamining the way we’ve always done things. I recently read a really interesting article about French President François Hollande banning homework in France. His reasons were for educational purposes rather than reasons related to childhood obesity, but it really made me do some thinking. Is homework interfering with our children’s free time? Could it,  as an indirect result, contribute to childhood obesity? Take a look at my argument, then weigh in with your thoughts!

Homework and Childhood Obesity

A Day in the life of the average school student

While the start and end times for the average school day vary depending on what time school starts, for most kids who go to school outside the home, their day is usually some variation of this:


Where in that schedule are our children getting enough time for active play? While younger children typically have less homework, it still takes up a good chunk of their after school time. Older kids in middle school and high school are often bombarded with homework, giving them virtually no free time at all.

How much physical activity does your child really need to prevent childhood obesity?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60 minutes of aerobic activity a day to help prevent childhood obesity. They also recommend working in some bone conditioning and strength training activities 3 times a week each as part of those 60+ minutes. Now, if your child has a great metabolism and eats healthy, he can likely get away with just those 60 minutes each day. If your child has a slower metabolism or is already dealing with childhood obesity issues, that may not be enough.

Take a look at your child’s schedule again.  Working in the 60 minutes is a bit of a challenge, but perhaps doable. What if your child is one who needs more than that, though? It’s almost impossible to squeeze in the extra time, especially if your child is also among those who receive an hour or more worth of homework each night! Homework can also be stressful for children, especially when they’re feeling overwhelmed by it! Stress can lead to childhood obesity as well!

But isn’t homework important?

The importance of homework is debatable. Some children excel without homework, learning what they need to learn during school hours. These kids do great on tests whether they have homework or not. Others do need the extra practice at home to help in sink in more. Some kids simply learn better in their home environment.  Perhaps banning all homework isn’t the solution. Something needs to give, though! Fortunately, I’ve already come up with a few solutions that help balance the need for homework and the need to prevent childhood obesity.

Proposed solutions to the homework versus childhood obesity issue

These are just a few ideas on how to keep homework from contributing to childhood obesity. What do you think about homework? Does it interfere with your child’s free time after school? I am really excited to hear your thoughts on the subject. I know there are two sides to this, and welcome alternative views.

Does Homework Contribute to Childhood Obesity? is a post from: Our Family World
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