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Daily Dose: Obesity in Preschool-aged Children during COVID-19

Article

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.


On January 5, 2023, we reported on a study published in the European Journal of Public Health that examined changes in body mass index (BMI) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic among children aged 3-5 years in Sweden.

The study

A total of 25 049 children who underwent regular health checks at child health centers across Sweden were included in the study. Researchers took growth measures for all the participants at 3-, 4-, and 5-years of age.

There was an increase in BMI in children aged 3 and 4 years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Obesity in 3-year-old girls increased from 2.8% to 3.9%. Four-year-olds increased in obesity, and overweight (girls) and the prevalence of underweight decreased in boys. No change in BMI was observed in participants aged 5 years. Also, a higher prevalence of overweight and obesity was observed in areas with low socioeconomic status.

Clinical implications

"The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have affected health behaviours negatively in Swedish preschool children. Our results expose the need for extended efforts directed to prevent childhood obesity, especially targeting lower socioeconomic areas."

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