Lockdown has created a series of societal and economical issues in the UK and Worldwide. School closures, job losses, furlough, or working from home have all disturbed our regular routines. One of the biggest fears that parents, and health professionals have is the impact of lockdown on children’s health. Need2Know Books discuss the rising trend of weight gain in children due to lockdown and gives useful tips to parents to help control unwanted weight gain.
Childhood obesity: the numbers
Childhood Obesity Week runs from the 6th July to the 12th July 2020 and is an opportunity to discuss the issues that surround obesity in children. Childhood obesity has been on the rise in the UK for decades. The number of children with an unhealthy and potentially dangerous weight is a national public health concern. Figures published in a briefing paper in 2019 found that 9.5% of reception age children (age 4-5) are obese, with a further 12.8% overweight. At age 10-11 (year 6), 20.1% are obese and 14.2% overweight. Children living in deprived areas were more likely to be obese and this gap has increased over the last decade.
Reasons for weight gain
Lockdown has caused countless problems for children. It has impacted the daily routine of going to school as well as after school activities that range from organised sports, to creative arts. The restrictions imposed were extremely difficult on families from the end of March to early June with movement being severely interrupted. Simple things like going for a walk, a bike ride, or playing on a beach had to be done with caution due to fears surrounding COVID-19 which left many families confined to their homes. Although lockdown has given the chance for some families to spend quality time together many researchers have concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted diet, sleep and physical activity among children. So, there is little wonder why children have gained weight during these past few months.
A recent survey conducted by Total Shape found that the average child has gained 6lbs since the beginning of lockdown, with 11% of children gaining over 10lbs. Reasons cited by parents who took part included: schools being closed (65%); lack of time spent exercising with children (41%); and lack of space to exercise at home (34%). Schools give structure to children and serve as a place where children receive an education, get a healthy meal and receive targeted physical exercise. A challenge parents have faced is trying to maintain a healthy diet as children are naturally tempted to snack on sweets and fatty foods. For children who already suffer with weight issues isolation and being confined to indoor activities only exacerbates unhealthy eating habits further.
Healthy living: Useful tips
Now that lockdown has eased it is much easier to go out for fresh air and get exercise. Here are some tips to get children active:
- On average children and adolescents age 7 -17 need at least 60 minutes a day of exercise. Most of the 60 minutes should be either moderate- or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity at least 3 days a week.
- This can be done in short 15-minute bursts throughout the day or in longer sessions such as a walk or bike ride that helps strengthens muscles.
- It is recommended that kids age 2- 5 need 3 hours a day of exercise and should have opportunities to actively play several times a day.
Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be dull here are some fun ideas to pass the time:
- Kite flying: encourages running and walking
- Obstacle course: make your own with toys and objects from the home. It will get your child’s body moving.
- Ball kicks: kicking a ball helps coordination while exercising.
- Dance party: put some music on and have fun!
- Climb a tree: give guidance and keep it safe.
Need2Know books have a series of essential guides to help parents create a healthy living plan. To aid weight loss the Essential Guide to Fit Kids in 15 minutes is a great choice. For Healthy eating options try The Essential Guide to Children’s Nutrition. Enter N2K1 at checkout and receive a 30% discount.