Does the epidemic encourage unhealthy eating?

Potato chips and soda instead of a warm school lunch, regular pasta with pesto from the cup, because there is no long time besides taking care of the kids, but also more fruits, vegetables and fresh cooked foods instead of curries and fries in the canteen. “When it comes to nutrition, there is only light and shade,” says Astrid Donnales of the German Nutrition Association.

Children of low-education families can be the main victims. “It shows that the gap is widening,” says Donales. Affordable families attach great importance to a balanced diet even in lockdown. In families with fairly low education and low incomes, there is often a lack of knowledge about how to eat healthy. For many children of this family, eating in daycare centers and schools is especially important. “There are children who get the only balanced meal every day at school or nursery,” says Donnales.

According to a study conducted by nutritionists in Munich, the risk of an increase in the Corona crisis is greater. According to a representative survey of nearly 1,000 households, a quarter of parents and 9 percent of those under the age of 14 gained weight during the outbreak. Among children over the age of 10 from families with low qualifications to drop out of school, the proportion was 23 percent, experts write in the study published in the journal “Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism.”

“Children are sitting more at home.” “Sometimes children move less and snack more,” explains author Hans Hunner, professor of nutritional medicine at the Technical University of Munich. Some children in the surveyed families ate more fruits and vegetables than before the epidemic. About one-fifth of children eat chocolate, potato chips and soda often .. Children over the age of 10 years in particular eat sweet and savory snacks often.

A country-wide study conducted by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf on the mental health and well-being of children between the ages of 7 and 17 showed that many children have been living in less health since the start of the Corona pandemic. To this end, the research team conducted a survey of more than 1,000 children and youth and more than 1,600 parents from mid-December 2020 to mid-January 2021. After that, many children and adolescents ate an unhealthy diet with lots of sweets, and the number of children who did not exercise Any sport is ten times as much as it was before the pandemic.

So nutritionist Hanner worries that the Corona crisis could exacerbate the problem of morbid obesity in children and teens – with potential long-term consequences. “Studies show that about 80 percent of obese teens remain obese later in adulthood,” Donales says. Hence they have a higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease.

On the seventh of March of each year, the “Healthy Eating Day” calls attention to the importance of proper nutrition. The Society for Nutrition and Dietetics is organizing this for the 24th time. The focus this year is on diabetes, its causes and the correct dietary treatment. But due to the Corona pandemic, there will be no working day. However, that can be compensated at a later time, according to the site.

The Nuremberg Clinic is currently seeing another result of the Corona epidemic. Since the end of the first lockdown, specialists in the pediatric psychosomatic ward have treated far more children and teens with eating disorders. “There is twice the usual number,” says chief physician Patrick Nunnell. “The loss of appetite is particularly prominent.”

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More stress in the family, reduced social contacts, elimination of fixed daily structures and thus also fixed meals – all of these are risk factors that can promote eating disorders. Girls with anorexia in particular, Nunil says, often can’t handle stress well.

They have particularly suffered from the uncertainty and loss of control of the epidemic. They try to compensate for this by controlling their weight more. “This gives them the feeling that it’s at least in their hands,” explains Nunel.


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