Dr. Jane Sullivan
Advisor: Dr. Timothy Watson, M.D., Board Certified Pediatrician; Sarah Nash, RN, MSN
Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic led governments to impose strict social distancing and stay-at-home orders to reduce morbidity and mortality. One of the unintended consequences of school closures was an increase in sedentary lifestyles among children. This sedentary lifestyle and shelf-stable foods led to weight gain in pediatric populations. This manuscript shows how the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures resulted in weight gain among school-aged children. In addition, this article will propose evidence-based strategies for tackling obesity in pediatrics.
Data Source: A literature review was conducted using PubMed and Google Scholar using the search terms COVID-19, pediatric, obesity, and school closure. PubMed resulted in 29 articles and Google Scholar 6,520. Research articles were chosen if they were written in the last 5 years. After a thorough review of all articles obtained, 32 articles were determined to be the most relevant. Systematic reviews and studies based in the United States were included. In addition, 9 websites pertaining to childhood obesity and physical activity were reviewed for relevant data.
Results: Multiple studies show that school closures lead to weight gain. Unhealthy weight gain in children is associated with higher weight as an adult. Obesity is associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mortality.
Conclusion: There is a need to identify children at risk of weight gain during periods of school closure and support them during these times with opportunities for physical activity and healthy foods.
Keywords: COVID-19; pediatric; obesity; school closure
Fairfax, Erin. Childhood obesity and the COVID-19 Pandemic- New challenges for the healthcare provider. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science. 2022.
Fairfax E. Childhood obesity and the COVID-19 pandemic - New challenges for the healthcare provider. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2023; 5(1).
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