(WHTM) – With many schools teaching remotely during the pandemic, parents may have noticed that their kids have gained weight. In fact, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that youth between 2 and 19 gained weight nearly twice as fast during that time compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
“Some of the main reasons for the change in these numbers and the alarming results have to do with the increase in screen time that children were experiencing during the pandemic, a change in their sleep habits, an explosion in their stress level, lack of exercise and disruption of routines,” said Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist for Cleveland Clinic.
According to the CDC, obesity affects over 1 in 6 children in the U.S. and causes risks to their long-term health and quality of life.
“The COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures, disrupted routines, increased stress, and less opportunity for physical activity and proper nutrition, leading to weight gain among children and adolescents,” the CDC stated in the September 2021 study, which examined 432,302 young people between those ages.
Albers said what the study suggests is not so much a concern about weight gain but the change in children’s habits during the pandemic.
Albers advises parents to be sure their children are getting enough sleep, aren’t eating in front of screens, have access to healthy foods and are staying active during the day.
It’s also important to avoid talking about weight or dieting since that could be triggering, and in some cases, lead to eating disorders.
“Check in with your child, see what their stress level is, could this be at the heart of some of what they’re eating? Help them to tune into their bodies and investigate when they’re really hungry or when they’re eating because they’re stressed, bored or anxious,” Albers said.
The CDC said the biggest weight increases were seen in people with pre-pandemic overweight or obesity and younger school-aged children.
Albers said the CDC study results aren’t unique to children, as many adults also experienced weight gain during the pandemic.