(CBSDFW.COM) – Researchers are finding yet another side effect of the pandemic: rising obesity rates in children.
A new study published in Pediatrics found about a 2% uptick.
“You think two percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is a lot,” said Dr. Niraj Mehta with Helical Health. “It’s over a short period of time and in children. It’s going to affect them for the rest of their lives.”
While obesity has been serious problem in the United States for years, Mehta said the pandemic is making it even worse.
“There are so many things from diabetes and heart disease, high blood pressure, to different types of cancer that are associated with obesity,” he told CBS 11 News.
The new study found rising rates across all age groups, but the most affected were kids between the ages of five and nine.
“Oftentimes in clinical we see kids gain weight over the summer, and then their routine comes back in September, and they can kind of level off a little bit,” said Mikie Rangel, a clinical dietician with Children’s Health.
However, because of the extended time off, Rangel said it’s more like kids have been on a perpetual summer break. She said lack of structure and lack of exercise are two big factors. For parents, she suggested rethinking meals and snacks.
“When you’re offering a meal, when you’re offering a snack, make sure that there’s at least one choice that you and your child will eat,” she said. “Make sure all the choices are healthy.”