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Exclusive: COVID-19 induced lockdown is causing a rise in obesity among children

The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted children within ther four walls of their homes – drastically reducing their physical activity.

New Delhi: Coronavirus pandemic has hugely altered all spheres of our lives, with many of us wondering if we will ever get back to our pre COVID-19 lifestyle. The pandemic has sadly also impacted children we well, who for more than a year now, for many parts in the world, have not attended regular schools. They have also been restricted by their parents to go out and play with their friends and are largely home-bound.

Aryan*, a 12-year-old boy, who was a regular tennis player has gained eight to nine kilos in the last six months alone, shares Angelina Pillay, Dietician and Health Advisor, Apollo TeleHealth, about one of her client’s.

Due to lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle, Aryan gained weight so quickly. The young boy would also eat lots of namkeen packets sitting at home.

Sadly, he is not a lone case. “ Overweight and obesity have always been a problem in the urban population owing to rapidly changing lifestyle in the last one decade. The problem is exaggerated and has reached greater heights during the COVID pandemic,” shares Dr Meena J. Consultant, Paediatrics and Neonatology, Aakash Healthcare and Super Speciality Hospital.

Talking about how the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for a spike in obesity among children, Dr Jesal Sheth, Senior Consultant-Paediatrician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund shares, “COVID has changed the lifestyle of children. Lockdown, sedentary lifestyle, restrictions, lack of play have increased the incidence of lifestyle disorders like obesity in children.”

It is important to look after children’s weight gain and manage it as early as possible. “Childhood obesity can lead to an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis in early adulthood,” shares Dr Sheth.

However, despite lockdown measures, there are steps that parents can be mindful of to ensure that their kids do not gain extra weight.

One of the easiest ways to look after both the physical and mental wellbeing of children is to actively engage with them and keep them involved in household chores as they are deprived of physical socializing. “Parents should take their children’s help in household activities like cooking, gardening, decorating or creating arts skills,” shares Pillay.

Breaking it down into 3 simple steps Pillay shares the secret of managing kids weight, “Develop healthy eating habits, limit calorie-rich temptations and limit sedentary time – this will help together to be active with children and ensure adequate sleep”.


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