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Sharp Increase in BMI Rates Noted for Children During Pandemic

Last Updated: September 20, 2021.

MONDAY, Sept. 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- During the pandemic, sharp increases in body mass index (BMI) rates have been observed in children aged 2 to 19 years, according to research published in the Sept. 17 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Samantha J. Lange, M.P.H., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues compared longitudinal trends in body mass index among a cohort of 432,302 persons aged 2 to 19 years before and during the COVID-19 pandemic (Jan. 1, 2018, to Feb. 29, 2020, and March 1, 2020, to Nov. 30, 2020).

The researchers observed an approximate doubling in the rate of BMI increase between the prepandemic and pandemic periods, from 0.052 to 0.100 kg/m2/month (ratio, 1.93). Compared with those with healthy weight, persons aged 2 to 19 years with overweight or obesity during the prepandemic period experienced significantly higher rates of BMI increase during the pandemic period.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that pediatricians assess all children for the onset of obesity-related risk factors during the pandemic and provide tailored counseling, including screening for patient and family stress, disordered eating, and social determinants of health," the authors write. "The large increases in BMI and weight detailed in this report provide additional support for the need for such comprehensive screening and counseling."

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