Study quantifies pandemic increase in childhood obesity

The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly tumultuous for children as they have crouched down over the past year and a half, experie...


The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly tumultuous for children as they have crouched down over the past year and a half, experiencing disrupted schooling, heightened social isolation and heightened anxiety at a time when millions of households have been depressed. shaken by upheavals.

It turns out that the crisis has also been linked to significant weight gain in children and adolescents, according to a recent study published in the medical journal JAMA.

Researchers have found a 9% increase in obesity in children aged 5 to 11, with an average weight gain of five pounds during the pandemic. Among teens, 16- and 17-year-olds gained an average of two extra pounds, they found.

The study, which analyzed electronic health records for nearly 200,000 young people in the Kaiser Permanente health network in Southern California, confirms what many Americans have experienced firsthand: the pandemic has widened the waistline.

Experts said the study was among the first to quantify the effects on young people of disruption to normal activities and resources. “We know children gained weight during the pandemic, but the numbers are shocking and worse than I expected,” said Dr Sarah Barlow, childhood obesity specialist at Children’s Health in Dallas who did not participate in the study.

Some weight gain may be linked to school closures that have limited access to physical activity and nutritious meal programs. Distance learning, experts say, has often meant more sedentary time – and more access to the refrigerator.

Dr Rachana Shah, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, noted the effects of the pandemic on mental health and how stress can lead to poor eating habits. Dr Shah, who specializes in metabolic and obesity-related diseases, said: “During Covid, many people were even more stretched and less able to provide their children with healthy options.” She added that food can become “a coping mechanism” for people with anxiety or depression.

Dr Deborah Young, Division Director of Kaiser Permanente behavioral research and an author of the study, said she expected the peak of obesity to decrease as children return to school and their routines, but she and others have expressed concern that everyone does not lose the extra pounds.

“Being overweight in adolescence and early adulthood results in being overweight in adulthood and all the comorbidities associated with it, such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. blood pressure, ”she said.

Jamie Bussel, senior program manager at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which focuses on childhood obesity, said the pandemic had exacerbated systemic problems such as lack of access to healthy food in the poorest communities and the ubiquity of junk food and sugary drinks.

“Covid has really highlighted how negligent our food system is,” she said. “We need long-term political solutions. Otherwise, we’re just putting a bandage on a gaping wound.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Study quantifies pandemic increase in childhood obesity
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