Pediatricians warn that the prolonged interruption of face-to-face education, sports and other activities brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is causing weight gain that could have a lasting impact on children’s health.
Students eat more and exercise less, and nutritionists and physicians studying obesity worry that the pandemic is putting children at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and asthma, among other health problems.
“We see a lot of elementary school-age kids gaining 20 to 30 pounds in a year,” said Hai Cao, pediatrician and owner of South Slope Pediatrics in Brooklyn, NY.
Brittany Wilson, a medical assistant for Island Kids Pediatrics in Staten Island, New York, said the pandemic appears to have accelerated weight gain among patients who were already overweight. Children ages 6 to 12 seem to be the top earners.
“Even elementary school kids are getting depressed,” Wilson said. “They miss their friends. Many of them are not doing so well academically. With depression also comes weight gain. They are bored and I think they are eating comfort. “