The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it some huge problems, and one of those huge problems is children’s waistlines.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that childhood obesity has dramatically increased since the pandemic began. In the words of Dr. Alyson Goodman of the CDC, one of the authors of the report, the results are “substantial and alarming” and clearly show a “profound increase in weight gain for kids.”
The study is one of the largest and most comprehensive undertaken since the pandemic began in early 2020. The numbers report a jump of 22% in children and teens who are obese in August, compared to 19% last year.
Kids who were considered moderately obese experienced, on average, a gain of 12 pounds a year, up from 6.5 pounds prior to the pandemic. Kids who are severely obese had a yearly weight gain of 14.6 pounds, up from 8.8 pounds prior to the pandemic. For children considered healthy, the average annual weight gain went from 3.4 pounds before the pandemic to 5.4 pounds since the outbreak.
The most alarming increases were among kids aged 6 to 11. The researchers involved believed that this group of children may have been the most impacted by the lockdown policy of canceling in-person classes. The only group that did not show statistically significant gain were children who were considered underweight (arguably the one group that might have actually benefited from significant weight gain.)
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, children and adolescents spent more time than usual away from structured school settings, and families who were already disproportionally affected by obesity risk factors might have had additional disruptions in income, food, and other social determinants of health,” stated the CDC report.
The trend comes as an exacerbation of an already serious problem: the obesity epidemic. Even prior to COVID-19, the CDC estimated that obesity affects at least one in six children, to the great detriment of long-term health.
The research was generated by reviewing the medical records of over 432,000 children and teens between the ages of 2 to 19, who were weighed and measured at least twice prior to the outbreak and at least once early in the pandemic’s spread. While the study focused on children, the news wasn’t any better for adults, who were estimated by the CDC to have gained an average of 20 pounds since the pandemic began, on average half a pound for every 10 days spent in lockdown.
Obesity has been a serious and worsening issue in the U.S. for many years now. The obesity rate was already considered extremely problematic in 2000, with a rate of 30.5 percent. It has skyrocketed since, leaping to 42.4 percent in 2018, according to the CDC. Obesity dramatically increases the odds of contracting a variety of health ailments, such as heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
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