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A study posted in the National Library of Medicine documented the “significant” increase in body weight in children during coronavirus lockdowns and concluded that young people with pre-existing obesity, of Hispanic and African-American ethnicity and living in poverty suffered the most.
The study, published in July by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, combed through a biomedical literature database to assess “the extent and risk factors of lockdown-induced weight increase” as well as “the impact of obesity on the risk of hospital admission in children and adolescents.”
The study found that a “significant weight increase was reported in the majority of subjects” regardless of age and gender, particularly in children who were already struggling with weight issues.
“The highest weight/BMI increase was observed in children with pre-existing overweight/obesity, of Hispanic and African American ethnicity, and in those living unfavorable socioeconomic conditions, therefore, most vulnerable to unhealthy lifestyle, food insecurity, family and social stress (i.e., lower parental psychological and educational support, and higher financial concerns/limitations), and with difficult access to academic resources and healthcare services,” the study states.
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The study concluded that “data analysis clearly demonstrated the detrimental impact of COVID-19 lockdown on children and adolescents’ body weight and BMI, children with pre-existing overweight/obesity being more at risk of gaining weight.”
The weight gain in children came as a result of homeschooling, sitting in front of screens like tablets and televisions, less physical activity, junk food and excessive eating, the study says.
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In addition, the study explained that “the high levels of stress, fear and anxiety experienced by children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic could have contributed to weight increase during the lockdown.”
Those who struggled with increased weight gain and obesity as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns were also more likely to be hospitalized after contracting the virus, the study found.
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“The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the health and well-being of children and adolescents. Lockdown measures affected healthy lifestyle behaviors through the modification of dietary habits, the reduction of physical activity and the alteration of sleep patterns, and also increased the levels of stress and anxiety, overall promoting weight gain and obesity,” the study’s conclusion reads.
The study backs up the findings of a CDC study last year that showed “profound increase in weight gain for kids” during the coronavirus lockdowns.
It found that an estimated 19% jump in childhood obesity during the lockdowns and that children who were a healthy weight were gaining an average of 3.4 pounds a year before the pandemic and 5.4 pounds during the pandemic.
Associated Press contributed to this report
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