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Obesity rates spike among kids during the pandemic

Recent CDC study says weight gain doubled in some children
Childhood obesity
Posted at 10:58 PM, Nov 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 01:04:51-05

TUCSON, ARIZ.(KGUN) — It’s a national trend that’s affecting 1 in 6 kids every day in the United States. Obesity during the pandemic is an issue that pediatricians are seeing especially with a major jump in weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC recently released an alarming report about obesity rates among children. KGUN 9 spoke to Dr. Helene Felman at Banner University Medical Center about the trends she’s seeing at her office.

"When I’m seeing patients, many patients went up significantly in their weight,” Felman said

According to experts, obesity numbers have been on the rise for years, but there has been an accelerated weight gain during the pandemic. CDC numbers show that 22% of children were obese in 2020 compared to 19% in 2019.

“Rates of increase for body mass index or obesity doubled during the pandemic,” Felman said.

On average, kids of a healthy weight gained about 5lbs, while moderately obese kids put on an extra 12lbs and for severely obese kids the number was 14lbs. Researchers looked at over 432,000 medical records of participants between 2 and 19-years-old. In some cases, entire families were affected.

"It's worse the older you get, if you are obese, you tend to have more severe disease if you have COVID," Felman said.

The study also says disrupted routines, stress and low physical activity were the main factors of the weight gain. However, the news might be looking good for families in Arizona.

"We’re seeing more activity in kids and their weights have been trending down. We don’t have the research yet to prove that, but I suspect that’s what we’re going to see when next year's study comes out,” Felman said.

Dr. Felman says the best thing that parents can do right now to fight the battle of the bulge is to avoid processed and fast food. Meanwhile, the CDC recommends at least one hour of exercise daily for kids between 6 and 17-years-old, it can be one of the keys to success.

"Try to get as many fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet as possible. We have the best weather this time of year and that is not the case in other parts of the country. Take advantage of getting outside or going for a walk,” Felman said.