Pediatric Weight Gain Rates in Fort Worth, TX Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic




Elashyi, Tamer
Fernando, Shane
Matches, Sarah


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Background: Childhood obesity is already a problem in the United States, with one out of three children being overweight or obese and one out of six being obese. The consequences from the COVID-19 lockdown seemed to have progressed into something bigger. During the pandemic, added stress amongst the pediatric population dramatically increased causing this population to snack more and exercise less. This change in eating habits and behaviors can have long term implications on their health currently and in the future.

Methods: Data from the outpatient Pediatric and Health Clinic at UNTHSC in Fort Worth, TX from January 2018 to May 2022 was used to assess this effect. Average weight gain year to year was computed and compiled for several zip codes in the North Texas area. The average weight gain was calculated based on the children’s age, sex, zip code and their ethnicity and race.

Results : Within each variable the average weight gain had increased year to year. The average weight gain amongst the pediatric population in this study increased to 16.13% compared to 13.92% pre-pandemic. The increased weight gains are cumulative with each year, as with each year they are adding more weight on top of the weight they had gained the previous year. When we calculate the percent weight gain in specific age groups and genders, we see a higher increase in weight gain, with male children gaining more weight on average compared to females. When looking at different zip codes, we see greater increases in weight gain related to lower household incomes. Boyd had an average of 34.87% increase in weight post pandemic compared to 13.91% pre-pandemic.

Conclusion: The increased weight gain leads to an increase in obesity rates among the pediatric population and the future adult population. This will burden our healthcare system now and more so in the future. Further research needs to be conducted on the health disparities between different ethnicities and races and average household incomes.