childhood obesity

Parents Say Their Children Have Gained Weight During the Pandemic

With kids spending more time inside at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, some parents are concerned by weight gain

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Keri Rodrigues says her three boys just aren't getting physical fitness.

"My kids are definitely gaining weight," said the mom from Somerville, Massachusetts. "The most exercise they're getting is really by wrestling in the living room, which doesn't afford the best exercise experience. They're missing gym, they're missing soccer."

Flavia Benson says her three kids are going through the same thing.

"There's been, definitely, weight gain," said Benson. "Just a lack of mobility, not going around and running around with friends."

And there's too much snacking in their Medfield home.

"We were kind of shocked at the weight gain of two of my kids, and it was something that was really eye-opening," she said.

"I'm seeing very disturbing trends," Dr. Mary Beth Miotto of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said Friday. "The health risks of remote learning in children and youth are becoming very evident to us every day."

Miotto spoke alongside state education officials who were urging more school districts to open up for in-person instruction.

Miotto says weight gain is one of the many negative impacts of the pandemic for school-age children as they're sitting at home for long periods of time with limited physical activity and may not be getting highly nutritious meals.

Some of the children she sees in her practice have gained 20 pounds or more, and she's handing out jump ropes at their annual visits.

"The long-term consequences of rapid weight gain and sedentary lifestyles will certainly be seen for years to come," she said.

That's something Rodrigues, founder of Massachusetts Parents United, is thinking about, as well.

"I'm worried about the long-term effects of weight gain, not only on their health, but their social and emotional health, as well," said Rodrigues.

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