MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The stress and life changes during the COVID pandemic have led many of us to pack on the pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics is raising concerns about children’s nutrition and physical activity during this difficult time.
Dr. Lisa Denike is chief of pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente Oregon & Southwestern Washington.
She says, “We’re seeing a lot of weight gain in children of all ages, which I think is mirroring lot of what we’re seeing in our parents and families.
Dr. Denike says we just don’t burn as many calories in front of screens all day.
“Being at home all day lends itself to constant snacking or grazing,” she says. “The other is, eating is a coping skill. It releases the feel good hormones in our brains when we eat.”
New research from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics shows an estimated 19% of children and adolescents (ages 2-19) in the U.S. are obese, which can have long-term health implications.
“Obesity lends itself to a lot of health care issues in young adults. And actually, even in older teens we’re seeing now a lot of type two diabetes, heart problems, kidney problems, high blood pressure,” says Dr. Denike.
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Dr. Denike suggests parents schedule sleep and wake times, meals during the day, and 30 to 60 minutes of sweaty physical activity daily.
The Adair family is adapting to many changes in the pandemic, from virtual learning to canceled sports and activities. They’re working hard to stay active and eat right. Mom Joanna says they are taking a lot of family walks.
She adds, “online school made it a little bit harder to prepare meals, so we have our Instant Pot pressure cooker, that’s been helping us make healthier meals.”
And parents need to be good role models. Something Joanna is embracing, “Doing these kinds of activities as a family I think is really important because they see the parents wanting to get outside and take that walk and be healthy.”
Like adults, children and adolescents with obesity are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease.