Childhood obesity is on the rise during the pandemic: should we be concerned?

A more sedentary lifestyle caused by the pandemic has led to an increase in childhood obesity in Val-de-Marne, according to a Public Health France study published on Tuesday. However, some doctors want to calm down.

The conclusion is irrevocable. “The overweight and obesity of children in central Val-de-Marne has increased significantly between 2020 and 2021 compared to the previous two school years,” write the authors of a study by Public Health France, which included almost 50,000 4-year-olds Children brought up in Val-de-Marne.

In the latter, published on Tuesday in the Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin (BEH), we can see in particular that the number of obese children increased from 2.8% to 4.6% between 2018-2019 and 2020-2021. Over the same period, the proportion of overweight children increased from 8.6% to 11.2%.

This weight gain is largely due to the restrictions related to the Covid-19 crisis. But will this exponential development calm down? Should we be unduly concerned about this?

Mainly genetic criteria

Pediatrician Béatrice Dubern wants to calm down on BFMTV.

“By resuming a normal lifestyle, children who are not prone to gaining weight will normalize their obesity,” she explains.

She recalls that the main factors in obesity are genetic. In fact, if the overweight child has a family history, then it is best to consult a doctor.

“We know that only certain children will develop obesity throughout their childhood or their entire lives,” she continues.

Words confirmed by Boris Hansel, nutritionist and consultant for BFMTV.

“You can pick up bad habits, but not everyone is predisposed to becoming obese. There is a genetic predisposition. Just because it was difficult for a few weeks or months doesn’t mean it’s made for eternity,” he explains.

What to do to reverse the trend?

Three factors are responsible for obesity in children, explains Boris Hänsel. First, the sedentary lifestyle: The National Observatory of Physical Activity and Sedentary Lifestyle (Onaps) estimates that nearly 57% of 5- to 17-year-olds have drastically reduced their physical activity. Poor sleep also encourages snacking. Finally, poor nutrition in children actually puts them at risk of obesity.

In order to act on these aggravating factors, it is necessary to engage the children by getting them to find a physical activity that can resemble a simple trip to the park.

And the diet? Wrong good idea, say some specialists, who prefer to talk about food rebalancing. In the crossDietitian at the Association for Prevention and Health Education Local Actions (Apesal), Jonathan Cullis insists:

“We have to break the negative image of dietetics and above all not talk about diet. The child convinces himself that he can no longer eat sweets and cakes… Wrong! We have to avoid the frustration that comes from the restriction, without what.” that won’t last in the long run, it’s not about punishment, it’s about changing eating habits.

With that in mind, in 2018 the health insurance company launched its Mission Find Your Course MRTC program, designed to encourage children to eat better. This must be deployed this year to avoid a surge in childhood obesity.

This is already the case with our neighbors. In Le figaro, Endocrinologist Philippe Froguel, professor at Lille University Hospital and Imperial College London, analyzes that obesity rates among young Britons has doubled in the last two years, with four in ten 6-year-olds being overweight, one in four being obese and 6 in 10 % are very obese.

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