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Childhood obesity and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Child obesity School closures had led to more screen time and less exercise for the UK’s children

Childhood obesity continues to be a significant public health problem across the world1 and can be legitimately described as a global epidemic, it is estimated that by 2020, 158 million children and adolescents aged between 5-19 would be categorized as obese1. The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) data shows an upward pattern in childhood obesity for the UK, with 2019/2020 data demonstrating that 23% of children in reception class and 35% in year six were living with obesity. The same data also shows a worrying trend of obesity rates doubling between reception and year six2. With schools closing many NCMP measurements for 2020 could not be carried out. Follow up of those already identified as outside the healthy weight range were recommended to be deprioritized2.

The impact of COVID-19 on childhood obesity

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our healthcare systems and populations to the core, the scale of which has never been seen in peacetime. COVID-19 has brought with it significant adjustments in daily living for children and their families, some of which will have far reaching consequences for the worsening picture of childhood obesity in the UK.

Cessation of physical activity and team sport


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