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Child Obesity Rose Sharply During Pandemic

By Cara Murez
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood obesity was a worrisome issue before the pandemic, and now it's alarmingly worse, new data shows.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found a "profound increase in weight gain for kids" that is "substantial and alarming," Dr. Alyson Goodman, one of the study's authors, told the Associated Press.

The study was based on the medical records of 432,00 children and adolescents in the United States. The kids had been weighed and measured at least twice prior to the pandemic and at least once between June and the end of November of last year.

Samantha Lange, a researcher at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion led the research team. According to theAP, the investigators found that the number of children and teens who were obese had grown to 22.4% in August of 2020, up from 19.3% in 2019, worsening a longstanding obesity epidemic in the United States.

The study showed that children who were healthy, obese, or have severe obesity had more weight gains than those with healthy weights.

Children who had severe obesity gained about 14.6 pounds compared to the 8.8 pounds of expected annual weight gain, the APreported. People with moderate obesity should have gained about 6.5 pounds, but they actually gained 12 pounds. Those who had a healthy weight had been gaining 3.4 pounds a year, but that increased to 5.4 pounds during the pandemic.

Children aged 6 to 11 had the most significant increases in rates of obesity, the AP reported. The study found that they were more dependent upon their parents than ever and might have suffered more from the closure of an in-person school.

According to the AP, the new study is the largest review of child obesity trends to date during the pandemic. However, it does not examine how obesity trends vary between races and ethnicities. This included only children in the United States who were able to receive medical treatment before or during the epidemic.


Obesity is an issue affecting all ages. The CDC earlier announced that 4 more states have 35% or more obese residents this year. These states include Texas, Iowa, Ohio, and Delaware. They join Alabama, Arkansas and Indiana as well as Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. Those results are based on self-reporting of height and weight by adults.

Experts note that obesity can increase your risk for severe COVID-19-related illness.

The new study was published in the Sept. 17 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on childhood obesity.

SOURCE: Associated Press, Sept. 16, 2021

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