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An Unfortunate Side Effect of the Pandemic – Childhood Obesity


Dr. Sheila Forman


children and parenting

Dr. Sheila Forman, a former practicing attorney, has PhD in psychology, and is a one of the first qualified Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB EAT) Instructors in the world. Often characterized as having the mind of a lawyer and the heart of a therapist, Dr. Sheila has devoted over twenty years to helping people address weight and food issues by focusing on the emotional aspects of overeating.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted so many areas of our lives from job loss and home schooling to dealing with death and loss. An unfortunate, and very serious, side effect of the pandemic’s impact is the affect it has had on our children’s health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost 2.3 million children have tested positive for COVID. The health implications for these children are extensive and include respiratory illness, heart disease, and obesity. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified obesity as an underlying risk for contracting COVID, we now must be mindful of the fact that it is a consequence too. There are serval reasons for why the pandemic has led to an increase in weight gain among children. These reasons include: a reduction in physical exercise, the lack of access to healthy school meals, and changes in family eating habits that may include more delivery service and less grocery runs. 


To help children get back to a healthy weight, the following actions can be taken.


1.      Avoid dieting. Diets cause weight gain in the long term so you do not want to set your child up for a lifetime battle with weight.


2.      Avoid judgment. Pointing out a child’s weight gain can cause psychological damage that could lead to an eating disorder.


3.      Instead, adopt a mindful approach to food and eating with the parents taking the lead.  


4.      Eat mindfully:

  • Eat without distractions – that means no TV, computer or phones.
  • Eat when hungry, stop when full – if you eat when you are not hungry you are emotionally eating. At that moment find something else to do – read a book, play a game, go for a walk.
  • Allow all foods – no more “good or bad” foods. Food is food and when eaten mindfully it is eaten in the right amounts and will not lead to excess weight.


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