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Association of Changes in Obesity Prevalence With the COVID-19 Pandemic in Youth in Massachusetts

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

The COVID-19 pandemic and its social stressors have hindered obesity prevention and management. Obesity prevalence has been rising in the US, particularly in Black and Mexican American adolescents.1 Few population-level studies have examined the effects of COVID-19 on childhood obesity prevalence. An observational study found childhood obesity prevalence in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, region increased from 13.7% to 15.4% (2019-2020).2 The study included all patient visits and analyzed 2 time periods without a control period. Given obesity prevalence had been increasing prior to COVID-19, the observed increase may be overstated.1 Using the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s disease surveillance system (MDPHnet), we examined obesity prevalence in 3 periods from 2018 to 2020 in a fixed cohort of children and adolescents.

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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Article Information

Corresponding Author: Allison J. Wu, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, 300 Longwood Ave, Hunnewell Ground Floor, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115 (allison.wu@childrens.harvard.edu).

Accepted for Publication: October 3, 2021.

Published Online: December 13, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.5095

Author Contributions: Dr Wu and Ms Rocchio had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Wu, Aris, Hivert, Klompas, Taveras.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Wu.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Wu, Aris.

Obtained funding: Wu.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Rocchio.

Supervision: Wu, Aris, Hivert, Klompas, Taveras.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Wu reported grants from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality during the conduct of the study. Dr Klompas reported grants from Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the conduct of the study. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: This study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (grant T32HS000063).

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Additional Contributions: The authors wish to acknowledge Alex Gitungano, MPH, from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as well as the MPDHnet advisory panel, including Myfanwy Callahan, MD, MPH, from Atrius Health; Brian Herrick, MD, and Michelle Weiss, MPH, from the Cambridge Health Alliance; and Marlene Abreu, MA, and Lynette Mascioli, MPH, from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. The authors also thank Aileen Ochoa, MPH, from Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. No compensation was received.

References
1.
Ogden  CL , Fryar  CD , Martin  CB ,  et al.  Trends in obesity prevalence by race and Hispanic origin: 1999-2000 to 2017-2018.   JAMA. 2020;324(12):1208-1210. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.14590PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
2.
Jenssen  BP , Kelly  MK , Powell  M , Bouchelle  Z , Mayne  SL , Fiks  AG .  COVID-19 and changes in child obesity.   Pediatrics. 2021;147(5):9. doi:10.1542/peds.2021-050123PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Klompas  M , Cocoros  NM , Menchaca  JT ,  et al.  State and local chronic disease surveillance using electronic health record systems.   Am J Public Health. 2017;107(9):1406-1412. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.303874PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Kuczmarski  RJ , Ogden  CL , Guo  SS ,  et al.  2000 CDC growth charts for the United States: methods and development.   Vital Health Stat 11. 2002;11(246):1-190.PubMedGoogle Scholar
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Woolford  SJ , Sidell  M , Li  X ,  et al.  Changes in body mass index among children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.   JAMA. 2021;326(14):1434-1436. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.15036PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Lange  SJ , Kompaniyets  L , Freedman  DS ,  et al; DNP3.  Longitudinal trends in body mass index before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic among persons aged 2-19 years: United States, 2018-2020.   MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(37):1278-1283. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7037a3PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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