SAYRE, Pa. (WETM) – Childhood obesity rates were decreasing nationally ahead of the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, that is not the case anymore, with rates increasing drastically due to the ongoing shutdowns.
“Childhood obesity puts people at risk for lots of health issues later in life, it puts them at increased risk for sleep apnea, high blood pressure, type two diabetes, and in real-time childhood obesity puts kids at increased risk for stigma and bullying.” Said Dr. Laura Leonard, a pediatrician at Guthrie-Robert Packard Medical Center. She goes on to say that she believes we are seeing the short-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on obesity.
“So the number one risk factor for obesity is physical inactivity. So I think, first, the schools closing down really decreased the amount of activity that kids were getting.” Said Leonard. Schools closing or switching to virtual learning and the continued canceling of after school activities is resulting in kids living much more sedentary lives.
She said that she has noticed a change in her patients, saying that some who would participate in sports in the spring had the long summer off and are experiencing more aches and pains due to their lack of conditioning.
Another point she touched on was pandemic eating or stress eating, that many are experiencing. “I think that pandemic eating is really a thing, I think food is something that people use to comfort themselves and this has been an incredibly stressful time.” She believes that if parents make good food choices and the children see that, it will help in the long term.
She believes that the most important thing is to figure out a way to get schools opened safely so that kids can get their activities back. It is recommended that children do 60 minutes of physical activity a day, every day. Three days a week should see 30 minutes of strenuous activity.
Guthrie offers a program for parents and children to participate in health education and physical activity. you can find that program here.