Child and Adolescent Obesity Worsens During School Closures Due to COVID-19

The research team from Samsung Medical Center has published in Scientific Reports that there was a spike in the body mass index (BMI) during school closures due to COVID-19.


The study was conducted on 90 students between the ages of 6 and 18, who were diagnosed with obesity, and visited the hospital at least two times between December 2019 to May 2020.


*Average age – 12.2; male – 70 students; average weight – 67.2 kg; BMI – 26.7.


The research team monitored the changes of BMI at four-month intervals by comparing indicators relating to obesity, including body weight. This was the first time that obese children were subjected to an actual study to reveal body changes due to the indirect effects of COVID-19.


According to the research team, all indicators related to obesity worsened with the start of school closures. In the case of the average weight of 71.1kg, which is an increase of 4kg, BMI also increased to 27.7. Taking into consideration that it was during a growth period, all measurements were still outside the normal range. The indicators of metabolic syndrome also worsened. Total cholesterol level increased from 160.3 mg/㎗ to 169.5 mg/㎗. As for triglycerides, there was a big increase from 126.7mg/㎗ to 160.6mg/㎗. Furthermore, after the start of school closures, not only were fasting glucose levels high, but also higher levels in liver function were observed.


In response to these results, the research team advised that during the period of school closures, students should increase their physical activity by doing home exercises and paying closer attention to controlling their diet than usual.