The following is an excerpt from MedPage Today.
Article written by Marisa Censani, MD.
Before COVID-19, obesity affected around 20% of American children 2 to 19 years of age. Now, the numbers are expected to rise much further, with modeling studies predicting at least a 3% to 4% weight gain in children during the pandemic. In my obesity practice, children who had been losing weight before the pandemic are now returning with an average weight gain of 10 to 20 lb.
In fact, the signs I'm seeing suggest we are facing a dangerous collision between the COVID-19 pandemic and a surging obesity epidemic. Obesity and overweight have soared among my patients due to a number of factors directly related to the pandemic, including less access to physical education at school, a drop in extracurricular sports activities, and fewer healthy food choices because of financial challenges and shopping restrictions. The pandemic also exacerbated an already existing mental health crisis in youth, with an increase in emotional eating among children who are experiencing greater anxiety and depression.
Adolescent Obesity Has More Than Tripled Over the Past 30 Years
Over the past 30 years, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled in kids ages 2 to 5 years, tripled in youth ages 6 to 11, and more than tripled among adolescents ages 12 to 19. In fact, pediatric overweight and obesity affects more than 30% of children, and it is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Looking at the long-term consequences of this disease, children with obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity and all of its associated health problems, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, and ischemic heart disease later in life. (Continued...)