Doctors concerned pandemic has made childhood obesity a greater problem

Doctor warns disruption in routine can contribute to weight gain

DETROIT – The pandemic has impacted children in so many ways, academically, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Now pediatricians are concerned it could make the ongoing problem of childhood obesity even worse.

Tonight they are offering parents a formula to get kids back on track. With most extracurricular sports cancelled children are spending more time at home.

And with many parents distracted by working from home, the risk for kids gaining weight over the past several months has really gone up quite a bit and you can imagine in certain populations more so than others.

Dr. Raquel Hernandez says it’s not just the lack of activities or unhealthy food choices. The disruption in routine alone can be a factor.

“We know that weight in kids is affected by everything from diet and activity to also sleep and stress,” said Hernandez.

Experts say families should avoid mindless eating and consider rewarding good behavior with treats.

“It does predispose them to chronic illnesses including hypertension, as well as diabetes and pre-diabetes in some kids, as well as heart disease and high cholesterol,” she added.

Dr. Hernandez says parents can use the “9-5-2-1-almost none” formula to help reestablish a healthy routine.

“Nine hours of sleep is something that we recommend. Having five servings of vegetables and fruits per day as often as you can. Two relates to the maximum amount of screen time that we would recommend. One hour relates to the amount of activity, physical activity that we’d like kids to have and then zero refers to the sugary beverages,” she said.

It’s not just kids’ diets that have changed. A new survey finds 41 percent of parents say they’re snacking more often.

They’re also more likely to skip meals and consume more caffeine at lunch or in the afternoon.

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