Coronavirus-induced lockdowns across the world have negatively impacted the diet, sleep and physical activity among children with obesity, according to a University at Buffalo research.
The study, published in April in the journal ‘Obesity,’ examined 41 overweight children who were under confinement through March and April in Verona, Italy.
It found that the children ate an additional meal per day, slept an extra half hour per day, and spent nearly five hours per day in front of phone, computer and television screens, when compared to their behaviour last year.
The children were also consuming dramatically more red meat, sugary drinks and junk foods, three weeks into Italy’s mandatory national lockdown.
On the other hand, their physical activity decreased by more than two hours per week, and the amount of vegetables consumed remained unchanged.
“The tragic COVID-19 pandemic has collateral effects extending beyond direct viral infection,” says Myles Faith, childhood obesity expert and co-author on the study.
“Children and teens struggling with obesity are placed in an unfortunate position of isolation that appears to create an unfavourable environment for maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviours,” he added.
Their findings confirmed that children with obesity fare worse on weight-control programmes while at home compared to when they are in school.
The research group is conducting an ongoing study to test a family-based treatment for childhood obesity using telemedicine technology that allows participants to be treated in their homes.