*The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.
A new study is highlighting yet another consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic: It has likely made it even harder for kids with obesity to manage their weight.
The findings, researchers said, are no surprise. Many adults, faced with normal life being upended during the pandemic, have seen changes on the bathroom scale.
It’s also clear kids have not been spared, either. A recent government study found that during the first nine months of the pandemic, U.S. children and teenagers gained weight at twice the rate they had in the two years prior.
And while COVID restrictions have eased, life is not back to “normal,” said Bradley Appelhans, the lead researcher on the new study.
“Kids are back in school now, but some activities are still curtailed,” said Appelhans, an associate professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
For the study, Appelhans and his team tracked 230 children from urban, low-income families who were enrolled in a clinical trial testing an obesity treatment program — either before or during the pandemic.
Over one year, these kids typically saw an increase in their body mass index (BMI) — a measure of weight in relation to height. That stood in contrast to children in the program pre-pandemic: They typically showed a decrease in BMI that was sustained over one year.
The researchers suspect the findings reflect the conditions of the pandemic, rather than an ineffectiveness of tele-sessions.
“Even though families were getting support, kids were still stuck at home, with nothing but the refrigerator and video games for distractions,” Appelhans said.
School, he noted, gives kids outlets for exercise and free or reduced-cost meals, as well as a general structure for the day.
That lack of daily structure could be one of the major reasons for kids’ weight gain during the pandemic, said Amanda Staiano, a researcher who was not involved in the study.
The findings were recently published online in the journal Obesity.