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Child obesity up during the pandemic | What can you do as a parent to encourage healthy habits?

With childhood obesity up 3% between March and November 2020, experts say parents are kids' best role models, especially during the pandemic.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on child obesity during the pandemic last week, with stark findings. 

Over 400,000 people between the ages of two and 19 were sampled for their BMI (Body Mass Index) between March and November 2020. The higher the BMI, the higher the proportion between weight and height. Obese people have a much higher BMI than those of a normal weight.

The results? 

The rate of BMI increase nearly doubled compared to before the pandemic for children. It's one of the more long-lasting impacts of the pandemic. Kids have been locked in on their screen time, both for schooling and for other reasons, and it's creating some disturbing trends.

"What's really important is for parents to model regular physical activity themselves," said Ruth Comer with the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. "You don't have to be a super athlete, but taking walks, incorporating movement into your lifestyle, and inviting kids to go along with you on a bike ride or walking the dog together and showing kids modeling that for them."

Obesity in children increased by more than 3% between August 2019 and 2020. Those who were already overweight at the start of the pandemic and younger children experienced the largest increases. 

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