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Title: COVID-19 : a one-way ticket to a global childhood obesity crisis?
Authors: Cuschieri, Sarah
Grech, Stephan
Keywords: COVID-19 (Disease) -- Social aspects
Obesity in children -- Prevention
Obesity in children -- Social aspects
Population -- Health aspects
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Cuschieri, S., & Grech, S. (2020). COVID-19: a one-way ticket to a global childhood obesity crisis?. Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders, 19, 2027–2030.
Abstract: Obesity is a global epidemic based on three major pillars of (i) genetic (ii) behavioural and (iii) environmental determinants. The latter two pillars have been challenged during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic across all population age groups including children. The closure of schools resulted in decreased organised physical activity, increase in sedentary lifestyle and screen time with the possibility of stress-induced indulgence in high calorie dense and sugary foods, resulting in higher susceptibility to weight gain. The uncertainty faced by many Northern Hemisphere governments as the new scholastic year looms closer whether to open schools again or not further enhances the stress on the children and their family. Re-opening of schools is beneficial for children’s mental and physical health, and general wellbeing including the ‘combating’ of the childhood obesity epidemic. The family unit has also been challenged during this pandemic especially if the parent/s suffered redundancy. There have been attempts at seeing a silver lining as some families have embraced lockdowns as a means to strengthen their family bonds, increase homemade meals apart from the various virtual opportunities that were streamed on social media to encourage children to perform physical activity at home or in safe environments. However, curbing the viral spread while protecting population health will remain top priority until an effective COVID-19 vaccine is available. It is imperative to address other co-existing problems such as childhood obesity, which if uncontrolled may have a long-term profound health and economic consequence of higher eminence than the actual COVID-19 infection. The prevention and management of childhood obesity should be set as a priority at an individual, community and population level during this pandemic.
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