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pandemic obesity

The Post-Pandemic “New Normal”? An Even Unhealthier World in 2021, According To New Studies

As a result of the pandemic, American children are getting fatter, and in the UK people are continuing to rely on takeaway food as the lockdown restrictions end. Both are clear indications that the ‘new normal’ is going to be an even unhealthier world than the one we knew before the pandemic.

See the source image

Yet more evidence this week that the pandemic is having a seriously bad effect on our health, including a study which shows that young children in America have got fatter as a result of the pandemic, and evidence that people are turning to takeaway food more and more, even as the social restrictions are lifted, a behaviour which is clearly linked with negative health outcomes. 

The Pandemic’s Indirect Health Consequences

The first evidence comes from a new study by a group of researchers at American universities, which shows that the pandemic has had a serious negative effect on the health of American children, with a significant increase in the number who are now classified as obese. In particular, 5-11 year olds suffered the worst, gaining an average of 2.3kg.

The pandemic has been devastating for the mental health of the young, too. Click here to read about an alarming new study which suggests that as much as a quarter of all young people have experienced depression and anxiety as a result of the social restrictions.

Body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) data from a cohort of nearly 200 000 5-17 year olds was extracted from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) electronic health record system, for the period between 2019 and 2020.

The cohort was racially and ethnically diverse (10.4% Asian and Pacific Islander, 50.4% Hispanic, 7.0% non-Hispanic Black, and 25.3% non-Hispanic White) with 49.6% girls, a mean age of 11.6 years (SD, 3.8 years), and a mean pre-pandemic BMI of 20.7 (SD, 5.4). The study population was comparable with the overall KPSC pediatric population with regard to sex, age, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors. 

Before the pandemic, 38.9% of youth in the cohort were overweight or obese compared to 39.4% in the KPSC source population.

Youths gained more weight during the COVID-19 pandemic than before the pandemic, as seen in the table below.

The greatest change in the distance from the median BMI for age occurred among 5- through 11-year-olds with an increased BMI of 1.57, compared with 0.91 among 12- through 15-year-olds and 0.48 among 16- through 17-year-olds. Adjusting for height, this translates to a mean gain among 5- through 11-year-olds of 2.30 kg (95% CI, 2.24-2.36 kg) more during the pandemic than during the reference period, 2.31 kg (95% CI, 2.20-2.44 kg) more among 12- through 15-year-olds, and 1.03 kg (95% CI, 0.85-1.20 kg) more among 16- through 17-year-olds. 

The proportion of overweight or obese increased among 5- through 11-year-olds from 36.2% to 45.7% during the pandemic, an absolute increase of 8.7% and relative increase of 23.8% compared with the reference period (Table). The absolute increase in overweight or obesity was 5.2% among 12- through 15-year-olds (relative increase, 13.4%) and 3.1% (relative increase, 8.3%) among 16- through 17-year-olds. Most of the increase among youths aged 5 through 11 years and 12 through 15 years was due to an increase in obesity.

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Disaster: ultra-processed food now makes up 2/3 of the calories consumed by teens and adults, according to a shocking new study from Tufts University! Read about it here.

When looking for the causes of this increase, we must look to the deep changes the coronavirus pandemic has brought to people’s lifestyles, including their eating habits. Reliance on takeaway food has increased massively since the beginning of the pandemic, as the BBC reports, and this reliance appears to be persisting as the lockdown measures are lifted.

As a result of the pandemic, American children are getting fatter, and in the UK people are continuing to rely on takeaway food as the lockdown restrictions end. Both are clear indications that the ‘new normal’ is going to be an even unhealthier world than the one we knew before the pandemic.

See the source image

Yet more evidence this week that the pandemic is having a seriously bad effect on our health, including a study which shows that young children in America have got fatter as a result of the pandemic, and evidence that people are turning to takeaway food more and more, even as the social restrictions are lifted, a behaviour which is clearly linked with negative health outcomes. 

The first evidence comes from a new study by a group of researchers at American universities, which shows that the pandemic has had a serious negative effect on the health of American children, with a significant increase in the number who are now classified as obese. In particular, 5-11 year olds suffered the worst, gaining an average of 2.3kg.

The pandemic has been devastating for the mental health of the young, too. Click here to read about an alarming new study which suggests that as much as a quarter of all young people have experienced depression and anxiety as a result of the social restrictions.

Body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) data from a cohort of nearly 200 000 5-17 year olds was extracted from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) electronic health record system, for the period between 2019 and 2020.

The cohort was racially and ethnically diverse (10.4% Asian and Pacific Islander, 50.4% Hispanic, 7.0% non-Hispanic Black, and 25.3% non-Hispanic White) with 49.6% girls, a mean age of 11.6 years (SD, 3.8 years), and a mean pre-pandemic BMI of 20.7 (SD, 5.4). The study population was comparable with the overall KPSC pediatric population with regard to sex, age, race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors. 

Before the pandemic, 38.9% of youth in the cohort were overweight or obese compared to 39.4% in the KPSC source population.

Youths gained more weight during the COVID-19 pandemic than before the pandemic, as seen in the table below.

The greatest change in the distance from the median BMI for age occurred among 5- through 11-year-olds with an increased BMI of 1.57, compared with 0.91 among 12- through 15-year-olds and 0.48 among 16- through 17-year-olds. Adjusting for height, this translates to a mean gain among 5- through 11-year-olds of 2.30 kg (95% CI, 2.24-2.36 kg) more during the pandemic than during the reference period, 2.31 kg (95% CI, 2.20-2.44 kg) more among 12- through 15-year-olds, and 1.03 kg (95% CI, 0.85-1.20 kg) more among 16- through 17-year-olds. 

The proportion of overweight or obese increased among 5- through 11-year-olds from 36.2% to 45.7% during the pandemic, an absolute increase of 8.7% and relative increase of 23.8% compared with the reference period (Table). The absolute increase in overweight or obesity was 5.2% among 12- through 15-year-olds (relative increase, 13.4%) and 3.1% (relative increase, 8.3%) among 16- through 17-year-olds. Most of the increase among youths aged 5 through 11 years and 12 through 15 years was due to an increase in obesity.

Disaster: ultra-processed food now makes up 2/3 of the calories consumed by teens and adults, according to a shocking new study from Tufts University! Read about it here.

When looking for the causes of this increase, we must look to the deep changes the coronavirus pandemic has brought to people’s lifestyles, including their eating habits. Reliance on takeaway food has increased massively since the beginning of the pandemic, as the BBC reports, and this reliance appears to be persisting as the lockdown measures are lifted.

Café owner Carol Deeney, who says that 50% of all her sales are now via food delivery apps (image courtesy of the BBC)

Before the pandemic, Britons were spending around £38 per month each on takeaways, home deliveries and meal kits, according to accountancy firm KPMG, a trend that was already growing. But between spring 2020 and spring 2021 average monthly spend per person reached £53.

“The change that would have happened in three to five years in the sector has happened in months when businesses reacted as the pandemic started,” said Will Hawkley, KPMG’s global head of leisure and hospitality.

Major fast food chains such as Burger King and McDonalds say they are expecting home delivery to expand.

Pizza Hut is launching 125 new locations over the next three years to serve home delivery.

“We believe the increased demand for delivery is a trend that is here to stay,” Neil Manhas, general manager of Pizza Hut UK, said.

“Sales have been consistently higher than pre-lockdown and we’re actively recruiting for delivery drivers and managers.”

Men with low testosterone may be at SIX times higher risk of dying from coronavirus, according to a new study.

There can be little doubt that this is not a good trend, at least from the perspective of individual health rather than corporate profits. Research already indicates that regularly eating food prepared outside the home is linked to an increase in negative health outcomes.

A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics draws a clear link between regular dining outside the home and an increase in all-cause mortality.

The researchers analysed questionnaires completed in face-to-face interviews by 35,084 adults aged 20 years or older, as part of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey 1999-2014. Respondents answered questions on their dietary habits, including the number of meals they ate that had been prepared away from home.

The study notes that:

‘During 291,475 person-years of follow-up, 2,781 deaths occurred, including 511 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 638 death from cancer. After adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, dietary and lifestyle factors, and body mass index, the hazard ratio of mortality among participants who ate meals prepared away from home very frequently (2 meals or more per day) compared with those who seldom ate meals prepared away from home (fewer than 1 meal/wk) was 1.49 (95% CI 1.05 to 2.13) for all-cause mortality, 1.18 (95% CI 0.55 to 2.55) for cardiovascular mortality, and 1.67 (95% CI 0.87 to 3.21) for cancer mortality.’ 

‘The take-home message is that frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home may not be a healthy habit. Instead, people should be encouraged to consider preparing more meals at home,’ concluded the researchers

.

Our amazing dieting bible, Dieting Done Right, available now from Gumroad

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What is it that makes eating takeaway food so bad? As we note in our dieting bible, Dieting Done Right, which is available from Gumroad, restaurant food is usually far more calorific and less healthy than home-cooked equivalents, for a variety of reasons. 

One of the principal reasons may be that more fat is used in the cooking of the food, and this may also, depending on the quality of the establishment, be low-quality vegetable oil, which is extremely bad for you

While many aspects of the “new normal” that will emerge in the coming weeks, months and years are uncertain, one thing that seems increasingly obvious is that the post-pandemic world will be a much unhealthier one than before.

Café owner Carol Deeney, who says that 50% of all her sales are now via food delivery apps (image courtesy of the BBC)

Before the pandemic, Britons were spending around £38 per month each on takeaways, home deliveries and meal kits, according to accountancy firm KPMG, a trend that was already growing. But between spring 2020 and spring 2021 average monthly spend per person reached £53.

“The change that would have happened in three to five years in the sector has happened in months when businesses reacted as the pandemic started,” said Will Hawkley, KPMG’s global head of leisure and hospitality.

Major fast food chains such as Burger King and McDonalds say they are expecting home delivery to expand.

Pizza Hut is launching 125 new locations over the next three years to serve home delivery.

“We believe the increased demand for delivery is a trend that is here to stay,” Neil Manhas, general manager of Pizza Hut UK, said.

“Sales have been consistently higher than pre-lockdown and we’re actively recruiting for delivery drivers and managers.”

Men with low testosterone may be at SIX times higher risk of dying from coronavirus, according to a new study.

There can be little doubt that this is not a good trend, at least from the perspective of individual health rather than corporate profits. Research already indicates that regularly eating food prepared outside the home is linked to an increase in negative health outcomes.

A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics draws a clear link between regular dining outside the home and an increase in all-cause mortality.

The researchers analysed questionnaires completed in face-to-face interviews by 35,084 adults aged 20 years or older, as part of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey 1999-2014. Respondents answered questions on their dietary habits, including the number of meals they ate that had been prepared away from home.

The study notes that:

‘During 291,475 person-years of follow-up, 2,781 deaths occurred, including 511 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 638 death from cancer. After adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, dietary and lifestyle factors, and body mass index, the hazard ratio of mortality among participants who ate meals prepared away from home very frequently (2 meals or more per day) compared with those who seldom ate meals prepared away from home (fewer than 1 meal/wk) was 1.49 (95% CI 1.05 to 2.13) for all-cause mortality, 1.18 (95% CI 0.55 to 2.55) for cardiovascular mortality, and 1.67 (95% CI 0.87 to 3.21) for cancer mortality.’ 

‘The take-home message is that frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home may not be a healthy habit. Instead, people should be encouraged to consider preparing more meals at home,’ concluded the researchers.

Our amazing dieting bible, Dieting Done Right, available now from Gumroad

What is it that makes eating takeaway food so bad? As we note in our dieting bible, Dieting Done Right, which is available from Gumroad, restaurant food is usually far more calorific and less healthy than home-cooked equivalents, for a variety of reasons. 

One of the principal reasons may be that more fat is used in the cooking of the food, and this may also, depending on the quality of the establishment, be low-quality vegetable oil, which is extremely bad for you

While many aspects of the “new normal” that will emerge in the coming weeks, months and years are uncertain, one thing that seems increasingly obvious is that the post-pandemic world will be a much unhealthier one than before.

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