COVID-19 pandemic has caused an increase in child obesity

The C.D.C. reports “the rate of BMI increase approximately doubled” between 2018 and 2020.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:56 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The pandemic has posed many health issues for people around the world. But one of the indirect impacts COVID-19 has had is increasing obesity in children.

Before the pandemic, Mississippi has had one of the highest obesity numbers in children than other states.

Now, over the last 2 years, that number has only increased and local pediatrician Dr. Megan Washington said the pandemic is to blame.

“A CDC study that recently came out shows us the pandemic has caused our children, their weight to increase,” Dr. Washington said.

According to Dr. Whitney Herring with Mississippi Advanced Medicine, schools and activities shutting down caused many children to stop being active.

“Kids were not able to join their normal extracurricular activities. And so they were more sedentary because they were doing virtual learning they had increased their screen time,” said Dr. Herring.

And along with less activity, the pandemic’s emotional toll played a roll in the increase.

“We’re also seeing a huge increase in pediatric depression anxiety, which can manifest itself with overeating, poor food choices,” Dr. Washington said.

Both Dr. Washington and Herring agree that children’s eating habits at home may have had the biggest impact on child obesity.

“We’re dealing with some issues with kids either not being supervised and they will eat. When kids are in school, obviously they don’t have free access to food,” Dr. Herring said.

And while the pandemic still rages on, doctors recommend parents being role models and getting kids active while still staying cautious.

“Good thing is, is that COVID exposures outside are very limited. So getting outside and going for a walk or riding bikes definitely make a difference,” Dr. Washington said.

“If you eat healthy and do healthy things in your life, then they will see that and want to do it as well,” Dr. Herring said.

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