*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
New research confirms the pandemic has not been good for the waistlines of children.
During lockdowns, American kids gained more weight than before the pandemic, and the number who became obese also increased, researchers report.
“This increased weight gain occurred in all youth between 5 and 17 years, but was particularly evident in children ages 5 to 11 — an excess weight gain of over 5 pounds,” said study author Deborah Young, director of behavioral research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California.
For the study, Young’s team used Kaiser Permanente Southern California electronic health records to collect data on nearly 200,000 girls and boys aged 5 to 17.
Participants had their weight measured before and during the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, 39% of children were overweight or obese. During the pandemic, overweight or obesity increased among 5- through 11-year-olds from 36% to 46% — an absolute increase of 9% and relative increase of 24%, the researchers found.
The absolute increase in overweight or obesity was 5% among 12- through 15-year-olds, a relative increase of 13%, and 3% among 16- through 17-year-olds, a relative increase of 8%.
“Overweight and obesity were pandemic before COVID, and unlike COVID, represent a perennial plague with no end in sight,” said Dr. David Katz, president of the True Health Initiative, a group that supports healthy lifestyles.
“There has been evidence before now of weight gain trends among adults and deterioration of diet quality,” he said. “Many impediments to preferred means of exercising may have reduced physical activity levels as well.”
This study showing weight gain trends in children is concerning, Katz said. “This weight gain will increase COVID-related risks in the near term and potentially increase risks for diabetes and other chronic cardiometabolic disease over time,” he noted.
The report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.