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Researchers find link between serious cases of COVID-19 in children and being overweight

A new CDC study found that most young people who suffer severe COVID-19 outcomes have underlying health conditions, with the most common being obesity.

AUSTIN, Texas — When it comes to COVID-19, kids are lucky because they are the age group least likely to be affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But that’s not to say they can’t get sick, as the recent spike in pediatric hospitalizations reveals.

According to a new CDC study, most young people who suffer severe COVID-19 outcomes have underlying health conditions. The most common, especially for teenagers, is obesity.

According to the study conducted in a number of hospitals last summer and released this month, compared with patients without obesity, those with obesity required higher levels and longer duration of care. Among patients aged 12 to 17, 61.4% had obesity, while 60.5% had severe obesity.

American children and teenagers have seen a significant increase in weight gain since the pandemic began. The CDC found that the percentage of obese young people between the ages of two and 19 years old increased to 22%, compared with 19% before the pandemic, likely due to lack of physical activity as the pandemic has dragged on and on.

 “I really believe that it's the sedentary lifestyle that kids were not getting up on time and getting ready for school in moving all day long and doing their sports, doing their activities," said Elly Tran, a pediatric dietician with Texas Children’s Hospital. “They were at home. They were either bored or they were stressed. The parents were nervous and concerned, or the parents felt bad. So then they wanted to treat them, and the treats became too many.”

Tran said one of the best ways to guard against obesity is to encourage healthy eating and active lifestyles among the young.

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