Experts worry pandemic has worsened childhood obesity | KOB 4
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Experts worry pandemic has worsened childhood obesity

Casey Torres
Updated: September 24, 2020 11:43 AM
Created: September 24, 2020 11:21 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Health experts are worried that childhood obesity is getting worse due to COVID-19. 

"Childhood obesity has actually tripled from the 1970s to the 2000s," said Melissa Mason, a doctor with Journey Pediatrics in northwest Albuquerque. "And we're seeing it in much younger ages."

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Now, with the pandemic in the mix, Mason said they are seeing children who are gaining too much weight too quickly. More screen time, sitting down and not enough exercise could be a factor. 

Mason said obesity can contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, sleep issues... the list goes on. It can even cause other issues with self-esteem, depression and getting bullied. 

However, a few changes at home can help prevent gaining too much weight. One of them is nutrition. 

Shelley Rael, a registered dietician and nutritionist in Albuquerque, said the size of our stomachs is comparable to our fists – so that should give parents an idea of how much food is too much. However, Rael said frequent eating is an important part of child development. 

"Eight, ten years old and younger... we could expect to give them three meals and a couple snacks," Rael said. "Just because I think of them as hummingbirds. They need to eat a little bit more often but not constantly. Older kids could get away with three meals and one snack, unless they're going through a growth spurt."

Rael said to try giving vegetables and fruits as snacks instead of chips, and a few minutes of exercise a day can help. Dr. Mason said check-ups with your family doctor also shouldn't be skipped. 


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