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What Coronavirus Lockdowns Can Teach Us About Preventing Childhood Obesity

It never ceases to amaze me how grave the obesity crisis is in our nation and world, and yet we pay so much more attention to so many other pet issues that aren’t killing us at half the rate that over-processed, calorically-dense, hyper-palatable foods and chronic inactivity are.

Not that it got a lot of attention, but the coronavirus pandemic shone a harsh light on the reality of obesity, as obese patients were found to be hit particularly hard by the virus in both elderly and younger patients, and one of the largest studies that had been done on COVID-19 in the US back in April found obesity to be the single biggest common factor in hospitalizations second to age.

Meanwhile, a recent study has found that widespread lockdown measures keeping children cooped up at home and staring at screens has been found to be worsening childhood obesity, Just the News reports.

The study found that children in Italy ate more junk food and watched more TV during the pandemic, in addition to having less opportunity for physical activity, both of which led to weight gain.

"The tragic COVID-19 pandemic has collateral effects extending beyond viral infection," said professor Myles Faith, a University of Buffalo childhood obesity expert and co-author of the study, which was published in the journal Obesity.

The authors of the study explained that the typical life of a schoolchild involves regulated meals and opportunities to exert energy, but children kept at home moved less and ate more.

The researchers, who were from Louisiana Sate University Pennington Research Center and the University of Verona in Italy, found that the 41 overweight children they studied ate one extra meal a day, slept for an extra half-hour daily, decreased their physical activity by more than two hours weekly, and had almost five additional hours of screen time each day during the lockdown as compared to data collected on the same children last year.

"Children and teens struggling with obesity are placed in an unfortunate position of isolation that appears to create an unfavorable environment for maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors," said Faith, according to MSN.

No matter what your lifestyle or that of your children, it is so important to work towards one in which regular physical activity and healthy eating habits.

Whether it’s the home-based lifestyle like my family and I have, or one where you’re out and running around all day, we can take a lesson from the fact that these Italian schoolchildren were more likely to maintain a healthy weight when they were playing with their friends and only eating meals at certain times.

At the core of a healthy lifestyle is a healthy set of rhythms and habits that help you to maintain proper energy balance.

These children had moved less and consumed more, and hence, they gained weight.

Making sure what you’re consuming and how much you’re moving is in good balance is the easiest and best approach to managing a healthy weight, as well as being conscious of when our daily life changes and we’re given less opportunity to move and more to eat, as we all experienced during coronavirus shutdowns.

It’s so important to instill these habits in our kids while they’re young to set them up for a long life of healthy eating and movement habits.

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