Coronavirus Quarantine: How Covid-19 Affects Childhood Obesity, Healthy Habits and Vulnerable Populations
The growing spread of the coronavirus has brought a very different and scary time to say the least. According to Johns Hopkins University, the United States currently has the most diagnosed cases of coronavirus in the world. Both the number of cases and fatalities continue to rise every day
As we continue to stay at home and practice social distancing, Gasol Foundation wants to help families continue their healthy habits during this “new normal” by sharing ideas on how we can still implement healthy living at home.
To learn more about COVID-19 visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How Does COVID-19 Affect Children?
Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. In the US, around 40 percent of the patients that required hospitalization were between the ages of 20 and 54, according to a new report from the CDC. Despite that, there are still important measures that can be taken in order to help prevent children from getting sick:
- frequent hand washing
- limit social interactions
- social distancing
However, the potential of contracting COVID-19 is only part of the risks that children are facing during these trying times. Physical activity levels, education, and their physiological well-being are some other elements that can also be affected.
Coronavirus and Physical Activity
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children and youth aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only one in three children are physically active every day. We predict that those numbers are lower today as the result of this current situation.
The HHS also states that children typically spend more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen (e.i., TV, video games, computer), and that 28.0% of Americans, or 80.2 million people, aged six and older are physically inactive. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is alarming to think what these figures will look like within the next few weeks and after the confinement period.
It is significant to note that even during this pandemic, children should still try and follow the recommendation of reaching 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Their motor skills need to keep developing and their cardiovascular and muscular systems need to be activated every day. It is important to keep this in mind despite children no longer being able to do so in large group settings through sport or club teams, afterschool programs, and fitness facilities.
How does COVID-19 Affect Children’s Emotional Well-Being?
COVID-19 can also have a psychological impact on children and adolescents. Stressors such as prolonged duration of the pandemic, fears of infection, frustration and boredom, inadequate information, and lack of in-person contact with classmates, friends, and teachers can have even more problematic and enduring effects. Many kids are going to be missing events that they have been looking forward to such as plays, dances, field trips, etc. These events are a big part of their social structure.
It has been proven that regular exercise is an effective stress management tool. In fact, physical activity and exercise has also been associated with psychological benefits in young people by improving symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Connection Between School Closures and Childhood Obesity
School closures have derailed the lives of children all over the world. Evidence suggests that when children are out of school, such as for weekends and holidays, they are physically less active, eat unhealthier foods, have much longer screen times, and have irregular sleep patterns; all of which are linked to weight gain and obesity. Such negative effects on health are likely to be much worse when children are confined to their homes without outdoor activities and social interaction during this outbreak.
COVID-19 and Vulnerable Populations
The COVID-19 pandemic does not affect all American populations the same. Older adults, individuals living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and individuals with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. However, many others are vulnerable to the pandemic, such as people experiencing homelessness and individuals suffering from food, housing, and job insecurities- particularly populations that are experiencing social inequalities.
Gasol Foundation and the Healthy Quarantine Movement
Your health and well-being is, and will always be, our top priority. One way in which Gasol Foundation is supporting families during this time is through our Healthy Quarantine campaign. This social media campaign consists of healthy suggestions, activities and ideas you and your family can do to maintain healthy habits at home.
Try to take advantage of new possibilities generated by this pandemic. Now is a great time to cook healthier meals as a family unit. Or, while working from home, take the chance to interact more with your loved ones.
Create a routine or daily schedule to follow; include mealtimes, schoolwork time and different fun activities.
- Give each day a healthy theme!
- Monday- “Healthy Cooking Day”- the entire family helps prepare a nutritious meal together.
- Tuesday – “Dance Night” -have a dance party at home.
- Wednesday – “Workout Wednesday”- everyone participates in a family workout.
- Thursday – “Talking Thursday” – check in on a family or friend.
- Friday – “Friday Feelings” Day- the family gathers to have a family meeting or discussion regarding their feelings or emotions.
Whatever themes you and your family choose, make sure to stay consistent and don’t forget to share with us on social media!
Creating and sticking with a routine is key. Continuing to eat healthy, engaging in physical activity, keeping a positive mindset, talking with family and friends, setting bedtime and waking times, and partaking in activities you and your family enjoy are crucial now, more than ever.
As we continue to navigate through these unpredictable times, we thank all of the essential workers (healthcare workers, store clerks, law enforcement, food production, etc) who are risking their health for ours. Let’s help them by staying home and advising others to do the same. Together, we will get to the other side of this global pandemic stronger and healthier.