Impact and recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic on weight status of children and adolescents
Bond, D. M.,
Schneuer, F. J.,
Baur, L. A.,
Garnett, S. P.,
Impact and recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic on weight status of children and adolescents.
Recent evidence suggests the immediate effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have resulted in increased weight in children and adolescents. However, the longer-term effects have not been assessed. The aim of this study was to examine the impact and longer-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on BMI and weight status of children and adolescents. This study used routinely collected clinical data from the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network, comprising two socio-demographically diverse children's hospitals in New South Wales, Australia from 2018 to 2021. Of 245 836 individuals ≤18-years assessed, mean BMI percentile increased from 58.7 (SD 31.6) pre-COVID-19 to 59.8 (SD 31.7)
(p < .05) post-restrictions and overweight/obesity increased by 5.5% (obesity alone 6.3%), predominantly in children <12-years and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The trend in BMI percentile was steady pre-COVID-19 (β = −0.03 [95% CI −0.07, 0.01]), peaked immediately following COVID-19 restrictions (β = 1.28 [95% CI 0.24, 2.32]) and returned to pre-pandemic levels over ensuing 21 months (β = −0.04 [95% CI – 0.13, 0.04]). Routine anthropometric measurement facilitates ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the weight status of children and adolescents, helping to identify those at-risk. Despite initial BMI and weight increases among children and adolescents, longer-term follow-up highlighted a return to pre-pandemic rates, possibly attributed to state-wide policies aimed at reducing childhood obesity.
adolescent, child, COVID-19, obesity, overweight