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Study: Kids gained average of 5 lbs, suffered worsening mental health during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, school closures

The pandemic caused weight gain across the U.S. That’s the latest takeaway from a new study that shows kids gained an average of 5 lbs during the coronavirus pandemic. Physical activity decreased during lockdown and subsequent months spent in remote learning, which prompted the weight gain in young children across the U.S.

“People shifted to ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat, ultra-processed junk food,” explained nutritionist Barry Popkin. “You’re talking about extreme weight gain in children. You’re talking about weight gain in every age group of at least four or five pounds.”

The big concern for mental health experts is the lasting impact that the pandemic had on their emotional well-being. While kids might have gained some extra weight – the long-term effects of isolation, lack of social stimulus, and remote education can be significant.

“Kids are most deeply traumatized as a population than any other population group by this pandemic,” Paul Gionfriddo from Mental Health America explained of the situation. A Kaiser study from earlier this year found that over 25% of high school students reported worsening emotional and cognitive health. More than 20% of parents with children ages 5-12 reported worsening conditions for their children.

”We need to provide significant mental health support for all kids returning to school, whether or not they have been identified with a mental health issue. We need to provide support to their teachers and staff who themselves have been traumatized,” Gionfriddo added.

Now, it could take years to deal with the physical and psychological toll of the coronavirus pandemic.