perennial plague with no end in sight,” Dr. David Katz, president of the True Health Initiative, a group that supports healthy lifestyles says.
“The long-standing contributions of obesity to chronic disease and premature death have been compounded during the COVID-19 pandemic by contribution to the acute, adverse effects of infection with SARS-CoV-2. In much of the world, obesity has emerged as the most potent predictor of severe COVID infection in people under age 50,” he says.
Unfortunately, the acute strains of the pandemic have generally distracted people from the importance of overall healthy living, Katz adds.
“There has been evidence before now of weight gain trends among adults and deterioration of diet quality,” he says. “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 shares. “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 notes.
“The world is mired in more than one pandemic,” Katz adds. “Attention to the one that was here all along — obesity, diabetes and cardiometabolic disease plaguing adults and kids alike — is more important during COVID-19, not less. We have abundant reason to be engaged in efforts to promote the benefits of good health, including healthy weight.”
How to kids more active
If current and future epidemics require educational, recreational and economic shutdowns similar to what occurred in 2020, interventions should be created to avoid excess weight gain, Young notes.
“Parents can make sure their children have lots of opportunity for physical activity in times of pandemics,” she says.
This includes involving them in sports, classes and lessons, providing free play outside, and taking them to parks and playgrounds. Also, healthy foods should be available at home for children to snack on between meals.
“During periods of pandemics in which online learning is required, teachers can enforce activity breaks and ensure that quality physical education occurs. They also can encourage snack breaks with fruits and vegetables,” she notes.