Suggestions on how to fight childhood obesity during COVID-19 pandemic

In This Together

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — While youngsters in Ohio have been able to get their schoolwork done from home during the COVID-19 crisis, that doesn’t mean they’ve been able to take advantage of everything school has to offer. 

“Mostly just access to areas to play,” said Dr. Ben Bring, a family medicine physican at Ohio Health’s Dublin Methodist Hospital. “I know a lot of playgrounds have been closed down. Unfortunately over the past couple of years we’ve seen childhood obesity rates increasing. A lot of factors are causing this, mostly dietary habits.” 

According to a study from 2017 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity prevalence was 18.4 percent among 6-to-11-year-olds, and 20.6 percent among 12-to-19-year-olds. 

And seeing how obesity in adults has made fighting the coronavirus challenging, it has doctors once again concerned with children heading down that lifestyle path, making a lack of recess or physical education during this time worrisome.  

“I know kids, especially, it’s tough to motivate a young child to say, ‘Hey, let’s go out for a run,’” Bring said. “Most studies will say that 30 minutes of physical activity that’s scheduled throughout the day can really help with things like depression, anxiety, mood disorders.” 

There is good news for children because on May 26, amateur sports like baseball and softball will return with health and safety rules.

Originally, some parents were concerned with some of those guidelines, most notably players having to wear masks when not in the field of play. So basically, a player doesn’t have to wear a mask while on the baseball diamond, but once they get back to the dugout, they would have to put on a mask.

On Friday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton relaxed those guidelines, making masks optional for players not in the field of play.

Bring said parents need to look at the individual needs of their child when it comes to deciding to wear a mask, or to take the field at all.  

“I think it depends on the type of activity they’re doing, and it also depends on your medical condition,” he said. “If you have a child that suffers from asthma or they have breathing difficulties or suffer from allergies, it may be a little bit harder for them to breathe, in which case that may not be an ideal activity for them to be doing. I know there are a lot of kids that really rely on sports for mental health and, you know, really getting out and getting good exercise, but at the end of the day, I always say we have to be able to do it safely and effectively.” 

So Bring suggested some old-fashioned ways to play sports, while also getting exercise and even making it a family activity.  

“Going back to the days of playing soccer in your front yard – I know just kicking a soccer ball around with my son or hitting baseballs – those are just some fun things you can do,” he said. “Just get creative with exercise right now.”  

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

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