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Study claims pandemic lockdowns led to an obesity epidemic

A UK survey found 30 percent of children did not leave the house on a typical day during periods of restricted movements.



Courier in protective mask and medical gloves delivers takeaway food. Delivery service under quarantine, disease outbreak, coronavirus covid-19 pandemic conditions.
(Sun Shock via Shutterstock)

By Joe Morgan via SWNS

Lockdowns have led to an obesity epidemic with one in three children now obese or overweight.

The rise in Deliveroo and other meal delivery apps has led to the rising obesity rate with takeout meals containing on average twice as many calories than the supermarket equivalent.

A UK survey found 30 percent of children did not leave the house on a typical day during periods of restricted movements.

Keeping kids at home also correlated with the rise in home cooking which is frequently far more unhealthy than school lunches.

A study in Britain found only one percent of packed lunches met school food standards between 2006 and 2016.

Government provision of free school meals has been shown to improve children's intake of healthy foods and lead to reductions in unhealthy body weight.

The collection of studies and surveys took place for the European Obesity Report released by the World Health Organization.

Overweight and obesity affects almost 60 percent of adults and nearly one in three children across the region.

More boys than girls are impacted by obesity (29 percent of boys compared to 27 percent of girls).

It is also the leading risk factor of disability, casing seven percent of total years lived with disability, with obesity also linked to greater mortality from COVID-19.

There are 7.9 percent of children younger than five who are also now obese.

Prevalence decreases temporarily between 10 and 19 years old, where one in five are overweight or obese.

Recent estimates suggest being overweight or obese causes more than 1.2 million deaths across Europe every year, the fourth highest cause after high blood pressure, dietary risks and tobacco.

It also corresponds to more than 13 percent total deaths.

In the UK especially, data from the National Child Measurement Programme shows children from low-income neighborhoods are more than twice as likely to be living with obesity than those from high-income neighborhoods.

And data from biobanks and primary care estimated a 1.41 to 1.55 fold increase in the odds of a positive test for COVID-19 for people affected by obesity compared with those of a healthy weight.

Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said: "I convened the Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development, a group comprising global leaders with outstanding expertise and experience, to draw lessons from how the health systems in different countries have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and to devise recommendations on how to improve and strengthen health and social care systems in the region.

"This report on obesity shows us the need to build resilient health systems that enable multisectoral action to tackle obesity through a whole-of-government approach, with all stakeholders taking timely action."

He added: "Through a concerted whole-of-government approach and by engaging all levels of society I am hopeful that we can change the trajectory of obesity in the region by creating environments that are more enabling and promote investment in health, develop strong and resilient health systems and innovate for better health and improved health governance."

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