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Childhood Obesity: Carrying the Weight of the Pandemic

With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic now over a year behind us, we are beginning to learn more and more about both adverse effects, like isolation and depression, and silver linings, like stronger resilience and improved work-life balance.

Did the pandemic have a positive or negative impact on eating habits and nutrition? It depends. Some people developed healthier eating habits, eating out less and taking time to plan and prepare meals. Many others fell into unhealthy eating habits that resulted in weight gain and led to an increase of obesity. Unfortunately, many children fall into the second group, so much so that childhood obesity has become a bigger problem than it was before the pandemic. Fortunately, schools can help reduce childhood obesity by educating children and families about nutrition. 

Childhood Obesity Data

New data shows that childhood obesity has increased at alarming rates.

  • According to a recent study by the CDC, children aged 6 to 11 had the most significant increases in rates of obesity.
  • The same CDC study informs us that 22.4% of children and teens were considered obese as of August of 2020, which increased from 19.3% in 2019.
  • According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the rate of BMI increase for children 2 to 19 years of age doubled during the pandemic.


Making a Difference

Schools are in a unique position to promote healthy eating.

  • Most US children spend an average of 6 to 7 hours a day at school.
  • Children consume as much as half of their daily calories while at school.
  • School nurses understand the importance of Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight, like eating a variety of foods.
  • Understanding BMI can help children and families evaluate their progress. Obesity is defined as having a BMI greater than 30.0. Families can use this CDC calculator to measure BMI.


The benefits of eating well transcend beyond maintaining a healthy weight. Sharing additional benefits, like the following list of the top 10 benefits of a healthy diet, can help motivate children and families to work toward healthier eating habits.

  1. Improved heart health
  2. Reduced cancer risk
  3. Better mood
  4. Improved gut health
  5. Improved memory
  6. Weight loss
  7. Diabetes management
  8. Stronger bones and teeth
  9. Sleeping better
  10. Improving the health of the next generation


The substantial increases in childhood obesity during the pandemic are concerning. Children and families who developed harmful eating habits during the pandemic can turn this negative impact into a silver lining by applying school lessons about healthy eating at home.

Shop MacGill’s selection of Nutrition and Fitness Education Materials and books on nutrition.

Shop MacGill’s selection of Scales, Stadiometers and BMI products.

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