Background: Obesity has been on the rise for the past several decades, which is associated with increased risk for comorbidities and severe consequences to the individual. In the Mexican American community, obesity has become a serious problem in children. The COVID-19 lockdown order issued in February 2020 caused further challenges for children to engage in regular physical activity.
Objective: To determine if the COVID-19 lockdown impacted the weight of 95% Medicaid-insured Mexican American children at a pediatric clinic in South Texas.
Design and Methods: We identified 417 new patients from March 2019 to February 2020 (with exclusion of 104 newborns) and followed them until December 2021. Height and weight were measured to estimate Body Mass Index (BMI) . The percentage of overweight or obese (OW/OB) children was calculated at the first and last visit.
Results: We had a total of 346 children at the end of the study. The average stature of the whole group was at the 48th percentile with 60% of the children at or below the 50th percentile based on CDC growth charts. Boys increased BMI from the 62.7th to 71.8th percentile (p<0.01) and girls increased from the 60th to the 70th percentile (p<0.02) . The distribution of BMI of the whole group indicated that 34.5% of children were OW/OB on the first visit and 49% were OW/OB at the last visit.
Conclusion (s) : Our study exemplifies that the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was associated with decreased physical activity, increased the BMI of children and increased associated comorbidities based on lab values. We have shown in previous studies that when BMI is in the OW/OB category, children have increased blood pressure, decreased high density lipoproteins, elevated liver enzymes, increased insulin resistance, larger kidneys, and fatty liver. These indicators place children at a higher risk for early development of hypertension, renal function decline, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
F. J. Cervantes: None.