The pandemic has many children struggling with weight

By Cara Murez
HealthDay reporter

MONDAY March 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Children and teens are already struggling to learn outside of the classroom during the pandemic, but locks and quarantines also prevent them from controlling their weight, say child health experts.

Lost routines, economic insecurity and heartache make it harder for children struggling with their weight, whether it’s obesity or anorexia, according to doctors at Stanford. Children’s health in California.

When home shopping and online schooling became mainstream, many young people no longer played sports or even walked the halls of school.

“Everyone’s activity level has changed dramatically,” said Dr. Elizabeth Shepard, medical director of the Pediatric Weight Clinic at the Center for Healthy Weights at Stanford Children’s Health. “Overall, we have seen excessive weight gain during the pandemic. For some children, this suddenly puts them in the range of overweight or obesity, and it can be very damaging to their long-term health.


Other children struggle with eating disorders and lose dangerous amounts of weight, said Dr. Neville Golden. The number of patients hospitalized under Stanford Children’s Health’s Comprehensive Eating Disorders Program for medical complications from eating disorders has been at an all-time high in decades, noted Golden, chief medical officer. of adolescents, who treats program patients.

“I’ve been in the field for over 35 years and in 2020 I’ve seen some of the sickest patients I’ve ever seen,” Golden said in a press release from Stanford. “It’s not just those who lived with eating disorders before. Many people have developed eating disorders during this pandemic.”

The increased anxiety, depression, and sense of loss among adolescents have contributed to the increase in eating disorders, Golden said. Some may also feel sad about the events they missed during the pandemic.

Shepard’s patients also suffer from anxiety and depression, she said. One or both parents may have lost their jobs, making it difficult to buy healthy, fresh food. Some are unable to maintain regular meal times.

Experts have offered several tips for increasing balanced diet at home.


Regular meal times are important. They can both cut down on too frequent snacking and ensure that everyone is eating their meals.

Keep healthy foods always available. Parents shouldn’t restrict a child’s food while allowing it for other family members, Shepard advised. “Healthy eating is for everyone, and goodies are for everyone,” she added.

“One of the real decision points for healthy eating is what you bring into your home,” she said. “It’s very difficult to say ‘don’t eat or drink’ about the foods already in your house. You want to have healthy foods that you enjoy and that taste great. You can have treats, but moderating the amount you take home is important. “

For low-weight children and teens, Golden recommends that parents take responsibility for preparing three meals and two snacks a day, and sitting with their child while they eat.

“Even this simple advice can really help a family in crisis until they see us,” he said.


The two experts encouraged families to call their child’s pediatrician for weight issues. Many programs now offer some weight management component through telemedicine.

“We need people to know that it is safe to take your child to the hospital or the medical system for evaluation,” Golden said, adding that this is true both for people in the hospital. overweight and overweight. “We are very attentive to preventing the transmission of COVID-19, with frequent COVID testing, appropriate personal protective equipment, hand washing, social distancing, etc.”

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers advice on healthy food choices for families.

SOURCE: Stanford University, press release, March 17, 2021

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