Childhood obesity worsened during the pandemic

While childhood obesity was already a problem in the United States and especially in our community, the pandemic and isolation have made the outlook even more alarming.

During the Covid lockdown, this problem got worse. We provide you with tips so that children can maintain a good diet while taking care of their health.

In the United States, by December 2020, before the pandemic, 1.27 million new cases of childhood obesity were already published, which would mean an increase in its prevalence of around 15% in many of the states.

Obesity has more than doubled in the last 25 years, thus becoming the most alarming child health problem in our country. However, it is not equally serious in all ethnic and social groups.

When Covid-19 began, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English) analyzed the population of minors hospitalized by Covid. 42% of the 208 children analyzed by the CDC had at least one underlying condition, usually obesity. “Childhood obesity affects nearly 1 in 5 children in the United States,” the CDC authors wrote. “And this is more prevalent in African-descendant and Hispanic children,” they added.

The risk is that being overweight causes children to suffer from chronic diseases that were previously exclusive to adults such as type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), and arthritis. The prevalence of type II diabetes among Latino children is two to three times higher than among non-Hispanic white children. Mexican descendants have an especially high rate, according to a report by the Food and Drug Protection Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

Habits changed suddenly and access to fresh and healthier food was difficult in households, there was a tendency to buy food that was easier to store, based on unhealthy flours and components. The mobility of people was reduced, they sat for many more hours in front of the screens and children were the main victims of these circumstances.

They suddenly could not play sports, walk to school, hang out with friends and the lack of social relationships made food, especially junk, the favorite company for isolation. Mental health was also affected. More ultra-processed foods were consumed, rich in salt, sugar, and trans fats, bad advisers for good health.

Children living in urban areas, in small apartments, were the most affected since places to play sports or public parks also suffered restrictions. That is why the world is already talking about “covibesity”, that is, the obesity generated during the pandemic.

Action must be taken to reverse the situation, as recommended by the CDC to help children develop healthy eating habits:

  • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products, including cheese and yogurt.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
  • Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
  • Limit sugary drinks.
  • Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.

Remember that small changes every day can lead to success!


For more information about nutrition, visit Choose My Plate for children  and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans



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