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COVID-19 Lockdown Sidelines Weight Control Effort Among Obese Youth


A longitudinal study of weight reduction in adolescents was redesigned to accommodate pandemic lockdown--and the results are very concerning.

When confined to their homes during the COVID-19 lockdown, youths with obesity engaged in unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, according to an abstract presented today at the virtual ObesityWeek®2020 Interactive meeting.

Authors, led by Steven Heymsfield. MD, professor and director of the Body Composition-Metabolism Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University System in Baton Rouge, had set out to test what would transpire among 41 children and adolescents who were participating in a longitudinal observational study located in Verona, Italy, when the lockdown in that country was made official.

Information on lifestyle, including diet, physical activity, and sleep behaviors were collected at baseline and 3 weeks into the national lockdown when home confinement was mandatory.

Changes in outcomes over the two study time points were evaluated for significance using paired t-tests.



Vegetable intake
0 change

Fruit intake
↑ (p=0.055)

Potato chip, red meat, and sugary drink intake
↑ significantly(p-value range, 0.005 to <.001)

Time spent in sports activities
↓ (X±SD) 2.30±4.60 h/wk (p=0.003)

Sleep time
↑ 0.65±1.29 h/d (p=0.003)

Screen time
↑ 4.85±2.40 h/d (p<.001)


While the results may not come as a surprise, the authors stress that recognizing these adverse collateral effects is essential to help avoid weight regain as well as return to pre-weight control program behaviors. They note:

Depending on duration, these untoward lockdown effects may have a lasting impact on a child's or adolescent's adult adiposity level.

A post-lockdown study is planned.

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