Health: More and more overweight children since the pandemic

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By Redaction Réforme with AFP

A study carried out under the auspices of Public Health France shows that cases of obesity and overweight among the youngest have increased since the health crisis began.

cases of obesity and obesity have increased sharply among the youngest since the beginning of the health crisis, shows Tuesday April 26 a study carried out in a French department, which confirms other work already carried out abroad. For four-year-old children “Overweight and obesity (…) have increased significantly in 2020-2021 compared to the previous two school years”summarize the authors of this study, carried out under the auspices of the French health authority in Val-de-Marne, a department in the Paris region.

The authors examined data from almost 50,000 children attending the kindergarten in this department. These figures come from systematic mid-section health checks when the children are about four years old. Although the scope of the study is limited by geographic concentration, the breadth and completeness of these data allow for reliable conclusions at the departmental level. These show that the proportion of obese children almost doubled in the two years that roughly corresponded to the onset of the health crisis. It rose from 2.8% to 4.6%.

Decreased nutrition and activity reduction

The rate of overweight children, a situation that covers broader criteria than obesity, has also increased from 8.9% to 11.2%. The authors hypothesized that the measures taken against Covid—first general confinement, then systematic school closures as soon as a case was reported—encouraged excessive weight gain in children. However, the study, which also states that girls are more affected than boys, cannot describe the exact mechanisms of this development.

It would be interesting to know if it is more the diet that has deteriorated – increased snacking, consumption of ultra-processed products – or the drastic reduction in activity.”, note the authors. This work is consistent with previous studies, including one published by US health officials in the fall of 2021. In addition, it had examined the data of more than 400,000 young people – between the ages of 2 and 19 – and concluded that their weight gain had, on average, been twice as fast since the beginning of the pandemic.“The greatest increase was in people who were obese before the pandemic and in younger school-age children”completed this work.

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