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Children’s weight gain in a pandemic surprises doctors

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Pediatricians say they see children and adolescents gaining as much weight as many come back. Direct visit For the first time since the pandemic began.

According to doctors, normal-weight children become overweight and even obese, overweight children become obese, and obese children gain even more weight. Doctors have also reported increased weight-related health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and fatty liver. Also, some children with prediabetes have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Rachanasher, Medical Director of the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital Health and Weight Program, said: The clinic currently sees 300 new patients each month. The next appointment will not be available until August. Referrals have doubled since the pandemic began.

At the IDEAL Pediatric Weight Management Clinic at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, many obese children gained 20-30 pounds during a pandemic, says Nazrat Mirza, medical director of the clinic. “I was so surprised at the acceleration of weight gain that I decided that just touching the base would require me to see all the patients,” she says.

Among primary care patients, Dr. Mirza says he saw an accelerating number of children jumping from the 10th or 20th percentile of the classification of obesity index to the 70th or 80th percentile.

May Journal Pediatrics Studies It was found that the proportion of obese children aged 2 to 17 increased from 13.7% in the same period of the previous year to 15.4% from June to December 2020. Researchers at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital analyzed pre-pandemic and pandemic body mass index calculations when more than 500,000 people visited the clinic in 2019 and 2020.

“We have found a significant increase in obesity rates,” says Brian Jensen, the first author of the study and CHOP pediatrician. The data showed that the proportion of children classified as overweight increased from about 14% to about 16%, says Dr. Jensen, but those numbers were published in a study focused on obesity. Was not done.

Dr. Jensen said the largest increase in obesity is in children aged 5 to 9 years. Their obesity rate went from 14.2% to 16.8%. Children, adolescents and Latin Americans in low-income households also showed a greater than average increase.

The adult obesity and overweight classification uses a body mass index calculated based on height and weight. Because children’s height and weight do not always increase proportionally, doctors use the BMI percentile range to determine if a child is overweight or obese. If the BMI percentile is 85-94, the child is considered overweight. Over 95 are considered obese.

Like many adults, children have more treats and less movement.Doctors gain weight Loss of routine in the last year— Especially in distance education — this caused the usual confusion of children eat, Activities and sleep habits. Children also often eat unsupervised with their parents working from home.

“Teenagers sleep at 1 or 3 am and take a nap during the day,” says Dr. Mirza. “They stay up all night and have a snack.”

Elizabeth Shepherd, medical director of the Stanford Children’s Pediatric Weight Clinic, says she sees children with double-digit weight gain every day in both primary care and weight clinics. She says many children skipped breakfast and woke up five minutes before distance learning began. This moved their meals late, and they ate more light meals as they stayed home all day.

One 14-year-old patient who was already obese gained 37 pounds and moved from prediabetes to developing type 2 diabetes, says Dr. Shepherd. An 8-year-old who was obese, but gained weight before the pandemic gained 20 pounds, developed newly developed prediabetes, and worsened liver function associated with fatty liver. And a 7-year-old girl from the Primary Care Clinic was in the overweight range at her final health checkup in 2019, earning 32 pounds and moving into the obese range.

According to doctors, the challenge is even if the child returns to normal daily life Go to school directlyIf you exercise and eat more regularly, you probably won’t lose weight automatically.

“It’s easier to prevent obesity than to treat it,” says Ellen Roma, head of the Adolescent Medicine Center at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. “Once we gain weight, our biggest challenge is to prevent weight gain at the same rate, to prevent height growth, and to prevent eating disorders in an attempt to lose weight.”

Doctors say they are careful not to focus on weight or calories when discussing overweight and obesity topics with their families. “We don’t use the word diet,” says Dr. Shah. “We are focused on change and goals. We are not talking about diet or calories. We try not to talk about weight. We are talking about health and prevention of long-term complications. is.”

Strategies to help children prevent excessive weight gain

*If the school is remote, encourage children to wake up for as little as 5-10 minutes every hour of screen time, says Sandy Hassink, medical director of the American Academy of Pediatrics Health and Pediatric Weight Institute. “Move them,” she says. Apps like GoNoodle and Cosmic Kids Yoga help kids move around, says Dr. Shepherd. Or just dance. “One of the easiest things to do is to turn on the music and dance,” she says.

*Try to eat with your family at least once a day. “When people sit down and eat, they talk and eat a little slower than unknowingly eating in front of the screen,” says Dr. Shepherd. And avoid the screen when eating.

*Help your child stay on a regular sleep schedule. Do not use the screen in the bedroom or before bedtime as it can interfere with sleep.

*Make sure your kids go out every day for some physical activity, fresh air and sunlight.

*Make sure your child is eating a structured diet to reduce snacks and bulimia. If you’re not at home, try to make unhealthy foods inaccessible and exclude healthy alternatives. “Children don’t cut oranges,” says Dr. Mirza. “Chop it up and put it there for your child.”

*Reduce the intake of sugared beverages such as juice and soda. Stick to water and low-fat milk.

*Aim for 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

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