CLEVELAND – With many schools teaching remotely during the pandemic, parents may have noticed that their kids have gained weight.
In fact, a study from the CDC shows the rate of body mass index nearly doubled for individuals between the ages of 2 and 19 years old. That’s compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
“Some of the main reasons for the change in these numbers and the alarming results, have to do with the increase in screen time that children were experiencing during the pandemic, a change in their sleep habits, an explosion in their stress level, lack of exercise and disruption of routines,” explained Susan Albers, PsyD, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Albers said what the study suggests is not so much a concern about the weight gain, but the change in children’s habits during the pandemic.
So, what can parents do to help with that? She said be sure your child is getting enough sleep, isn’t eating in front of screens, has access to healthy foods and is staying active during the day.
It’s also important to avoid talking about weight or dieting as that be triggering, and in some cases, lead to eating disorders.
Dr. Albers said stress can play a big role in weight gain, too.
“Check in with your child, see what their stress level is, could this be at the heart of some of what they’re eating? Help them to tune into their bodies and investigate when they’re really hungry or when they’re eating because they’re stressed, bored or anxious,” she advised.
Dr. Albers said the CDC study results aren’t unique to children. Many adults also experienced weight gain during the pandemic. However, she is optimistic that these numbers will improve with time.