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More children head back to school overweight amid pandemic

Posted at 6:47 AM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 21:50:23-04

About 19% of kids are obese, according to health officials.

“Overall, childhood obesity has been a big problem,” said Dr. Gary Kirkilas, a pediatrician at Phoenix Children’s hospital.

Kirkilas told ABC15 that some parents may not realize their child has gained weight during the pandemic.

"Children are gaining weight and parents live with their children so they might not notice it on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

Additionally, certain groups are more at risk than others.

"If we parse it down to different cultural groups, we typically see in Hispanic populations it's up to 25%, in African Americans it's 24%, White/Caucasian is 18% and then in Asians, it's six percent,” Kirkilas said.

“And being in Arizona we have a large population of Hispanics, so we do see quite a bit of childhood obesity,” he added.

Kirkilas told ABC15 the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for kids to be healthy.

According to the CDC, obesity is one of the underlying conditions that could increase a person’s risk of getting severely sick from COVID.

"And so I always encourage families to get back in to see their pediatrician, get their vaccines if they missed any, have a pediatrician check their heart and lungs -- all those things are really important to make sure everyone is as healthy as can be when they head back to school this year."