Pediatricians concerned about child weight gain during pandemic, more than a few pounds

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Pediatricians notice weight gain in children and not just a few pounds.

Many children return to the doctor’s office for annual checkups or for medical examinations for the first time since the pandemic.

Dr. Lucretia Carter, a mother and pediatrician from Tideland’s Health, says this is close to her heart. Both of her children, along with patient after patient, experienced weight gain during the pandemic.

“My son was a year-round kid who played basketball, so it was an abrupt stop,” said Dr. Carter. Dr. Carter believes the extra pounds are the result of less physical activity, social interaction, and many paused youth sports.

Doctors see that young children who used to fall between an average weight for their age and height suddenly become overweight or even obese. “The 20-30 pounds of weight gain in a short period of time, not even within a year, but only within a few months. It’s pretty widespread, I’d say, ‘said Dr. Carter.

According to medical experts, sudden weight gain can have mental and physical consequences. Some symptoms occur, other effects are long-lasting.

Parents like Dr. Carter have found that the extra pounds cause a shorter attention span, abruptness, and lack of motivation, in addition to a list of noticeable changes.

The long-term effects of significant weight gain can cause insulin resistance, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. “We’re seeing acne and overall self-esteem, and that’s really one of the big areas where we’ve seen a big hit in mental health and overall stress and anxiety and self-esteem,” said Dr. Carter.

A study this month from the Journal of American Academy Pediatrics shows that the most significant increase in obesity occurred in children ages 5 to 9.

Doctors attribute weight gain to loss of routine and distance education, which likely led to normal eating, activity, and sleeping habits.

As students go back to school and return to normal routines, experts say the weight won’t automatically drop.

Dr. Carter recommends referring to daily routine changes as “ lifestyle changes ” rather than “ diet. ”

Outdoor activities, replacing sugary snacks with healthier options, weekend walks, or simply creating a fun indoor play environment for kids are some ideas doctors say can have an impact on weight and mental and physical health.

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