Childhood Obesity Increased During Coronavirus Pandemic, CDC Study Finds

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Damir Mujezinovic

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the lives of people around the world, forcing millions to work from home and spend time in social isolation.

Data suggests that COVID-19 is not as dangerous for children as it is for adults, but the pandemic has nonetheless impacted them in a profound and disturbing way.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was released Friday, revealed that childhood obesity increased at alarming levels during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more below.

Childhood Obesity

Obesity affects more than one in six children in the United States and puts their long-term health at risk, according to the CDC.

By using data from IQVIA’s Ambulatory Electronic Medical Records database, the CDC was able to compare trends in body mass index (BMI) of 432,302 persons aged 2 to 19 years before and during the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, children spent more time at home, away from school and physical activity, which fed into the childhood obesity epidemic, the study found.

Continue reading to find out what the study showed.


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Shocking Results

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The study found that moderately obese children gained 12 pounds during the pandemic, compared to 6.5 pounds they gained per year before the pandemic.

In severely obese kids, annual gain weight increased from 8.8 pounds before the pandemic to 14.6 pounds.

Even children who were gaining a healthy average of 3.4 pounds every year gained 5.4 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the study.

The most dramatic increase was recorded among children ages 6 to 11, which suggests that this age group was most affected by being forced to stay home.

CDC Issues Warning

The CDC concluded that this study highlights "the importance of obesity prevention and management efforts during and following the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during future public health emergencies, including increased access to efforts that promote healthy behaviors."

"These efforts could include screening for BMI, food security, and other social determinants of health by health care providers; increased access to evidence-based pediatric weight management programs and food assistance resources; and state, community, and school efforts to facilitate healthy eating, physical activity, and chronic disease prevention."

Coronavirus In Children

With the highly-contagious Delta variant spreading rapidly cross the country, public health experts, policymakers and parents are all wondering whether its safe to send unvaccinated children back to school.

A recent study conducted by University College London and Public Health England found that as many as one in seven children experience COVID-19 symptoms months after testing positive, according to Reuters.

Study authors said that authorities should consider advising children aged between 12 and 15 years to get vaccinated against the novel disease.