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Children gained weight during the pandemic

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (August) has found that children gained excess body weight during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially those in the five-11 years age group. “When we compared the weight gain among children from 2019 to 2020, we found that there was more weight gained during the pandemic for youth of all ages,” says lead researcher Corinna Koebnick of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Department of Research & Evaluation.

Researchers analysed the electronic health records of 191,509 children in the five-17 age group from March 1, 2019, to January 31, 2021. They found that children between five-11 years gained 5.07 pounds additional weight during the pandemic than during the same time period before Covid-19, while 12-15 year-olds and 16-17 year-olds gained an excess of 5.1 pounds and 2.26 pounds, respectively. “As children go back to school it will be important to focus on health and physical activity to help children not carry unwanted extra weight into adulthood. We need to immediately begin to invest in monitoring the worsening obesity epidemic and develop diet and activity interventions to help children achieve and maintain healthy weight,” says Koebnick.

Green living cuts heart disease risk
Living in a green neighbourhood lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, says a study presented at the ESC Congress 2021. The study highlighted that residents of “high greenness blocks” had 16 percent less chance of developing new cardiovascular conditions compared to those living in “low greenness blocks”.

For the study, researchers studied 243,558 US Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older who lived in the same area of Miami from 2011 to 2016. Participants were categorised based on whether they lived in low, medium or high greenness blocks. Greenness is a measure of trees, shrubs and grass assessed by NASA imaging of the Earth and other technologies.

“We found that areas with better air quality have higher greenness, and that higher greenness in turn, is related to lower rates of deaths from heart disease,” says William Aitken, a cardiology fellow at the University of Miami.

Bed-sharing doesn’t improve mother-child bonding
Bed-sharing has no impact on infant attachment and/or maternal bonding, says a recently published research paper in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (May). Many parents share their bed with infants for reasons such as practicality and breastfeeding, or because they believe in ‘attachment parenting’.

However this study conducted by University of Kent, UK, which analysed data of 178 infants and their parents at birth, three, six and 18 months of age, found no correlation between bed sharing during the first six months and infant-mother attachment or infant behavioral outcomes. Similarly, sharing a bed had no impact on maternal bonding and sensitivity in interacting with infants at any of the assessment stages.

“A lot of people believe that bed sharing is necessary to promote secure attachment with infants. However, there is little research in this area and quite mixed evidence. More investigation of outcomes of bed sharing is required to better inform parents, guardians and practitioners,” says Dr. Ayten Bilgin, lecturer in psychology, University of Kent.

China limits children’s video gaming time
On September 1, China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) announced regulations to limit online video game playing for children under age 18 years to three hours per week. The new rules restrict online gaming for children to one hour in the evening on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.

The latest rules come amid a wide regulatory shake-up of the country’s technology industry that has wiped tens of billions off the market value of biggest video gaming companies. Under the regulations, online gaming companies can only allow children to play between 8 p.m and 9 p.m on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Gaming companies will be required to enforce the rule by using real-name registration systems and login requirements.

Chinese state media said these regulations are designed to protect the mental and physical health of minors, defined as under-18s, and to prevent overindulgence in online gaming.

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