There are more obese children since the start of the pandemic, according to a study carried out in France

According to a study published by Public Health France, the proportion of obese children almost doubled during the health crisis. It went from 2.8% to 4.6%.

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Cases of obesity and overweight have increased sharply among the youngest since the start of the health crisis, according to a study (PDF) conducted in Val-de-Marne and published by Public Health France on Tuesday April 26. “The increase in overweight or obese children increases significantly between the 2018-2019 reference year and the 2020-2021 school year”summarize the authors.

The authors looked at data from nearly 50,000 kindergarten-schooled children in this department, aged 2 years and 8 months to 6 years. Although the scope of the study is limited by its geographical concentration, the breadth and completeness of this data allow reliable conclusions to be drawn at the level of this department.

These show that the proportion of obese children has almost doubled during the two years corresponding roughly to the start of the health crisis. It went from 2.8% to 4.6%. The rate of overweight children, a situation that covers broader criteria than obesity, has also increased, from 8.9% to 11.2%.

Girls more affected than boys

The authors hypothesize that the measures taken against Covid-19 – general confinement at first, then systematic school closures as soon as a case was reported – favored excessive weight gain in children. The study, which also notes that girls are more affected than boys, is however unable to explain this development.

“It would be interesting to know if it is rather the diet that has deteriorated – increased snacking, consumption of ultra-processed products – or the drastic reduction in activities.


in the Public Health France study

This work is in line with previous studies, including one published in the fall of 2021 by US health authorities. The latter had examined the data of more than 400,000 young people aged 2 to 19. This had concluded that their weight gain had on average been twice as fast since the start of the pandemic.

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