Healthy health: Childhood obesity has increased at an alarming rate during COVID

CDC says childhood obesity has increased at a “significant and alarming rate“during the coronavirus pandemic, and a pediatrician says bad habits children developed during COVID restrictions could be harder to break.

In this edition of Sound Health, Dr Rebecca Sierra of OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington said that as children get older, weight gain is less of a concern and focuses more on good habits, such as healthy eating and exercise. Sierra said it was harder for children to be active last year during the COVID shutdown.

“It was such a complex question. It was difficult to weigh the risks and benefits of shutting down and keeping kids at home versus sending them to school, ”Sierra said, adding that the American Association of Pediatrics lobbied schools. reopen this year after seeing the effects of school closures on children.

OSF Health

Dr Rebecca Sierra

Sierra said more families struggled with food insecurity during the pandemic. This leads families to buy cheaper and less healthy food.

“Children did not have access to healthy meals at school. For many people, they were losing their jobs and no longer had the resources they previously had.

Sierra said it helps schools get funded to provide free breakfast and lunch for every student during the pandemic, regardless of the family’s financial situation. She said she would like to see expanded access to fresh fruits and vegetables. However, having healthier foods doesn’t matter unless the kids eat them.

Sierra said parents need to set an example for their children.

“I’ve had parents who don’t eat vegetables themselves ask me how to get their kids to eat vegetables,” Sierra said. “Everyone has to be on the same page and do the same thing at the same time, so that the child wants to be like his parents.”

Sierra said that although children have plenty of time to grow in their bodies, the health effects of poor nutrition and lack of exercise can be long lasting. “We are starting to see more and more young children aged 12, 13, 14 developing type 2 diabetes and what we considered to be complications in adulthood from overweight and obesity,”

Sierra added that these children may also be at higher risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

“We are certainly seeing this at much younger ages. “

Sierra recommends that children get 30 to 60 minutes of activity per day.

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