Kids and COVID-19 Weight Gain

Like adults, many children have gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Engaging in healthier habits can help shift the trend.

Since the spring of 2020, everyone—including kids—has had a rough time. Kids may have seen their school transition to virtual learning, organized sports cancelled, and summer camps and fun programs postponed. Because of their lack of outside activities, they may have spent more time at home, playing video games, watching TV or playing on the internet.

As a result of these sedentary habits—and easier access to unhealthy foods—children and teens are more likely to gain weight. While a few additional pounds aren’t necessarily a huge concern, a large weight gain could set the trend for lifelong obesity. The earlier you can help your child address potential weight gain through healthy habits, the more likely they are to maintain these behaviors later in life.

Why Weight Loss Matters

If your child is overweight or obese, he is at risk for a variety of physical health conditions, including asthma, heartburn, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. He is also more likely to experience emotional challenges, such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. But that is not the end of the story. If your child is overweight, he is also more susceptible to experience serious health consequences related to COVID-19.

Tackling the Problem

You can do many things to help your children manage their weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. The key is to make your goals identifiable, repeatable and attainable. But more importantly, make them fun! The more your child enjoys taking care of his health, the more likely he is to be healthy and happy.

Let your child be part of the conversation as you design your family wellness and weight management plan, which can include:

  • Start a family garden. Let your child choose favorite fruits and vegetables to plant and harvest them together. Growing your own family produce can help inspire a love for fresh fruits and vegetables while also keeping your little one busy and outside in the sunshine.
  • Take walks together. Make a morning or evening stroll part of your daily family routine. This is a great way to put exercise in the regular rotation.
  • Talk about it. When some children are feeling stressed, they turn to food for comfort. What could be more stressful than a life turned upside down by COVID-19? Set aside time every evening to connect with your child and talk about his day. These simple check-ins can pay dividends for emotional and physical well-being.

Getting Help

If you’re concerned about your child’s weight gain, turn to a healthcare provider for help. A back-to-school physical is a great time to have this conversation.

During the appointment, the provider can use a pediatric growth chart to determine if your child is within the average range for her weight and height. If her weight is higher than it should be, your healthcare provider can offer guidance for diet and exercise. They can help get your child back on track.

Sources:

aappublications.org, ama-assn.org, cdc.gov, cdc.gov, cdc.gov, nih.gov, nih.gov

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