One in five children in the Netherlands is overweight as a result of the corona crisis. In children who were already overweight, this is even about 40 percent. The main cause: (too) many snacks.
The academic hospital Maastricht UMC + announced this today after an investigation. The parents also gained weight due to a lack of exercise.
Less exercise, so more overweight
The research shows that one in three children started eating more unhealthy snacks during the corona crisis. In addition, three quarters of the youngsters started to exercise less, an average of 51 minutes less per day than at the same time last year. “Where last year 64 percent of the children still achieved the physical activity standard (of one hour of moderately intensive exercise per day), during the corona crisis this was only 20 percent,” said the Maastricht hospital.
On March 16 it was decided to close the schools due to the outbreak of the virus. Sports clubs also had to close their doors. These institutions are now open again. But in the intervening period, the daily schedule of children suddenly looked very different. “The corona measures have had a negative impact on the lifestyle of children in recent months,” say the researchers from the south of the country. For these experts, the measures were the signal from mid-March to investigate their influence on the lifestyle behavior of children.
“Be careful when making decisions about a possible second wave”
Dr. Anita Vreugdenhil, pediatrician at Maastricht UMC +, emphasizes the importance of the research results for future decision-making in the event of a possible second virus wave.
Children who participated in the study had to answer questions about their (eating) behavior at different times during the corona crisis. They were also provided with a “smart movement meter”. Among other things, they looked at diet, physical activity, weight development, sleeping behavior and whether children use online opportunities to exercise more. The overall conclusion is that the lifestyle has deteriorated in a large proportion of the children.
Obesity after stress and boredom
“The daily schedule of children has become disrupted by the closure of the schools,” says Vreugdenhil. “For example, this can cause stress or contribute to boredom and result in unhealthy eating behavior. Sports clubs were also often closed, which meant that children were much less challenged to actively exercise. ”
Vigilance is therefore required, according to the doctor: “Being overweight at a young age has adverse effects on health, such as an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and fatty liver. Our findings therefore not only play an important role in decision-making for a possible second wave, but also emphasize that there is work to be done to adjust the lifestyle now that we can reach them better again. An important role is reserved for the parents. They can pay extra attention to the lifestyle of their children, for example by bringing healthier products into their homes. ”
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