What El Paso parents need to know about the pandemic and child obesity

El Paso News

This Tuesday, April 3, 2018 file photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in New York. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, ties the COVID-19 pandemic to an “alarming” increase in obesity in U.S. children and teenagers. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Kids across the Borderland may be facing an unforeseen health impact pursuant to the pandemic. 

A recently released study by the CDC reports that the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to an “alarming” increase in obesity among children and teens in the U.S., the Associated Press reports

According to the CDC study released on Thursday, obesity in kids and teens rose to 22 percent last August, up three percentage points from the year before. 

The CDC says that children at a reportedly healthy weight were gaining about 3.4 pounds a year before the pandemic, but the study’s data reveals that average rose to 5.4 pounds during the pandemic.

Researchers conducted a medical record review of more than 432,000 kids and teens whose ages range from 2 to 19 years old. The subjects were weighed and measured at least twice before the start of the pandemic and at least once in the early days of the pandemic. 

Anticipated weight gain in moderately obese kids nearly doubled, the study says, rising from 6.5 pounds per year to 12 pounds after the pandemic started. 

Moreover, anticipated annual weight gain in severely obese children increased from 8.8 pounds to 14.6 pounds. 

The population where the rate of obesity increased the most was among kids aged 6 to 11, who researchers say are more dependent on their parents or guardians and also may have been most impacted when in-person instruction was suspended. 

The CDC announced earlier this week that Texas is among the states in which at least 35 percent of residents are obese increased. 

An article published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health used a similar process of medical record analysis to better understand obesity in Hispanic neighborhoods across El Paso. 

The authors report that socioeconomic inequities contribute to the prevalence of obesity that lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment of chronic medical conditions related to obesity. 

Lack of insurance and insufficient health education are contributing factors, the article reports. 

The CDC offers suggestions on developing healthy eating habits in kids:

  • Provide fruits, vegetables, and whole grain food items
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans as protein
  • Drinks a lot of water
  • Limit sugar and saturated fats

For more information on childhood obesity in the Borderland, click here; for our complete coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

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