Covid-19: the health crisis in France has made children fat

Santé Publique France has just highlighted the link between Covid-19 and weight gain in children. For this studySince 2018, that is, before the health crisis, almost 500,000 children have been followed on average for four and a half years. The Maternal and Child Protection of Val-de-Marne then analyzed the weight, height, gender and age of the young participants. The research also took into consideration the location of their school – whether it was in a priority area or not – and whether they attended the canteen and / or daycare.

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The study researchers explain in the introduction that “the goal of this work was to explore, over three school years (2018-2019, 2019-2020 and 2020-2021), the evolution of the height and weight status of children and estimate the impact of the health crisis due to SARS-CoV-2 in Val-de-Marne “.

Results? According to the research findings, the crisis actually caused weight gain in 4-year-olds.

A 50% increase in the number of obese children over three years

Conclusion? Data from Health Checks in Nursery Schools (BSEM), “show that the increase in height and weight status of children in the middle section of kindergarten is significant following the health crisis,” the study read. More specifically, the number of overweight children increased by 2.6% and 1.8% for obese children between 2020 and 2021. The same observation over the three years, the scientists noted an increase of 50. % of obese children. There were 518 for the school year that began in 2018 against 800 in 2021.

Lack of physical activity

Like adults, children have suffered the effects of the pandemic and the lockdown. Physical inactivity, lack of going out, and poor diet – all of which contributed to their weight gain. France Info does not fail to underline that in times of health crisis “prevention campaigns have focused on Covid-19, and not on nutrition and sport”. The time in front of the screens has increased, the parks and swimming pools have been closed for a while, it was enough to see the numbers increase significantly.

The most affected girls as well as children in priority education areas

The study showed that some children would be more affected by this phenomenon than on the other hand. Dr Marie-Laure Baranne, who conducted the research, does not explain it but the girls would be particularly affected. Another trend that emerges: a quarter of children living in a priority education area gained weight during this period.

Conversely, some factors helped protect children from this weight gain. As a result, those who are enrolled in daycare or who eat in the canteen were less affected. In question? Meals were more balanced and physical activity was more intense.

The study requires caution

The researchers therefore conclude that: “BSEM data show that the increase in height and weight status of children in the middle section of the nursery is significant following the health crisis. The measures adopted have increased sedentary lifestyle and worsened diets with a significant impact on children ”. Scientists therefore call for caution: “particular vigilance should be carried out in socially disadvantaged areas and among girls”.

Dr Baranne hopes that the return to normal life can stem this phenomenon. The expert stresses, however, that it is essential to take preventive actions and take care of these children quickly so that they do not get worse into adulthood.

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