CDC: School closures accelerated weight gain and obesity among kids

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everyone’s lives, but especially the lives of children. They were blocked from school, sports, friends, and the evidence continues to mount showing the negative effects of their isolation. A lot of evidence exists showing that disruptions caused by school closures increased stress, led to less physical activity as well as unhealthy eating habits leading to negative health outcomes –– like weight gain ––  among kids.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report quantifying how the pandemic-related disruptions have affected Body Mass Index –– a measure for weight gain.

According to the report,

In a longitudinal cohort of 432,302 persons aged 2–19 years with outpatient visits, the monthly rate of increase in BMI nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with a prepandemic period. The estimated proportion of persons aged 2–19 years with obesity in this care-seeking cohort also increased during the pandemic; for example, 19.3% of persons had obesity in August 2019 compared with 22.4% 1 year later.

Furthermore, rates of weight gain were considerably higher among kids that were already obese before the pandemic than among healthy kids.

Persons aged 2–19 years with moderate or severe obesity before the pandemic experienced significantly higher rates of increase in BMI, which translates to weight gain, compared with those with prepandemic healthy weight. During March–November 2020, persons with moderate or severe obesity gained on average 1.0 and 1.2 pounds per month, respectively. Weight gain at this rate over 6 months is estimated to result in 6.1 and 7.3 pounds, respectively, compared with 2.7 pounds in a person with healthy weight.

This is a worrisome trend. Weight gain among kids has serious health implications. As the CDC explains,

Accelerated weight gain, especially among children with overweight or obesity, can cause long-lasting metabolic changes that put children at risk for serious and costly co-occurring conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and depression.

That COVID-19 restrictions have been costly is a topic American Experiment has widely covered. But in light of the recent Star Tribune Poll showing that only 30 percent of Minnesotans considered that COVID-19 restrictions had gone too far, the CDC study results should prove even more sobering.