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Ann Pediatr Endocrinol Metab > Accepted Articles
DOI: https://doi.org/10.6065/apem.2346094.047    [Accepted] Published online January 29, 2024.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Childhood Obesity: Prevalence, Contributing Factors, and Implications for Management
Min-Ji Kim1,2  , Minji Kim1,2  , Ju Young Yoon1,2  , Chong Kun Cheon1,2  , Sukdong Yoo1,2 
1Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Korea
2Department of Pediatrics, Pusan National University Children
Address for correspondence:  Sukdong Yoo
Email: special4yoo@naver.com
Received: April 29, 2023   Revised: July 21, 2023   Accepted: August 14, 2023
This study aimed to identify changes in the prevalence of obesity and related diseases among children and adolescents during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
This study was conducted using data from the 2016–2021 Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and included 3861 children and adolescents aged 10–18 years. The prevalences of obesity and disease were adjusted for age, sex, and income. We also analyzed the socioeconomic, nutritional, and physical activity items of the survey.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant increase in the prevalence of obesity (p=0.02), central obesity (p=0.001), and mean body mass index (BMI, p=0.03) and hemoglobin A1c (p=0.005) among children and adolescents aged 10–18 years. The intake of food and calories was significantly reduced in the normal-weight group (p=0.001 and <0.001) but not in the obese group. Skipping breakfast increased and eating out decreased, regardless of obesity status. However, change in health behaviors was not significant. The prevalence of central obesity and BMI showed a significant linear association between children and their parents, especially 10–12-year-old age group. A clear increase in the proportion of metabolically unhealthy children and adolescents was observed in the obese group, and the frequency of central obesity in parents also increased.
The number of metabolically unhealthy obese children and adolescents increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Age-specific strategies that consider growth, development, and genetic and social factors are required. Health strategies targeting the entire family are required to develop healthier habits.
Keywords: Korea, obesity, children, prevalence, metabolic disease, COVID-19
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