Another negative consequence of the coronavirus pandemic was a sharp increase in childhood obesity, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Examining 432,302 adolescents aged 2-19, the CDC determined that children had doubled their Body Mass Index (BMI) since the start of the pandemic, during which they were subjected to lockdowns and social isolation.
A sign hangs outside a closed playground in Washington, DC, April 29, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
“The COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures, disrupted routines, increased stress, and less opportunity for physical activity and proper nutrition, leading to weight gain among children and adolescents,” the CDC accurately noted.
“Among a cohort of 432,302 persons aged 2–19 years, the rate of body mass index (BMI) increase approximately doubled during the pandemic compared to a prepandemic period,” the agency added.
Children already suffering from obesity prior to the pandemic reportedly “experienced the largest increases” in weight gain. Between the months of March and November of 2020, for instance, the CDC discovered that persons with “moderate or severe obesity gained on average 1.0 and 1.2 pounds per month,” resulting in a 6.1 to 7.3-pound increase over a period of six months. Children with healthier BMIs saw a 2.7-pound increase over the same period of time.
In this Thursday, March 19, 2020, photo, Rebecca Biernat watches as her son Seamus Keenan, 6, takes a live class online at their home in San Francisco. California’s Bay Area has been shut down for more than a week, the first region of America to order its residents to stay home, work remotely, and homeschool their children in a desperate bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Of the age groups, children aged 6-11 years were shown to have “experienced the largest increase in their rate of BMI change.”
In its analysis, the CDC also admitted that school closures “might have reduced” the possibility of children engaging in physical activity and eating healthier meals:
During the pandemic, many early child care and education settings and schools experienced closures, leading to online or hybrid learning environments. This might have reduced the ability for some children to engage in structured physical activity and receive healthy meals. As venues serving youth reopen, it is important to acknowledge the potential indirect consequences of the pandemic and provide children, adolescents, and families with ample opportunities for proper nutrition and regular physical activity.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), roughly 78 percent of “U.S. patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight or had obesity.”