Disparities in weight changes during the COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdown among youths

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2022 Nov 9. doi: 10.1002/oby.23645. Online ahead of print.


Objective: This study evaluates whether changes in weight among school-aged youth in California due to the COVID-19 lockdown vary by social constructs of race/ethnicity and associated social factors.

Methods: Including 160,472 youth ages 5-17 years enrolled at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, mixed effects models stratified by age group were fitted to estimate changes in distance from the median body mass index (BMI)-for-age from 3/2020 to 1/2021 (lockdown) compared to the same period prepandemic.

Results: Excess pandemic weight gain was higher among Black and Hispanic youth 5-17 years than among white and Asian youth; this difference was most pronounced in those ages 5-11 years. In youth 5-11 years, the distance from the median BMI-for-age increased by 1.72 kg/m2 (95% CI 1.61, 1.84) in Hispanic and 1.70 kg/m2 (95% CI 1.47, 1.94) in Black youth during the lockdown compared to 1.16 kg/m2 (95% CI 1.02, 1.29) in non-Hispanic white youth. The excess weight gain was also higher in youth with fewer neighborhood parks and those with state-subsidized health insurance.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown led to a gain of excess body weight, particularly for Black and Hispanic youth; this weight gain varied by social factors associated with race and ethnicity. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Body mass index; SARS-COV-2; childhood obesity; disparities; weight gain.