It is obvious: if you spend a lot of time at home, you move less than usual and console yourself with one or two sweets. A survey shows the consequences of this for children and young people. Sobering: bad habits remain. How parents get their kids moving.
A chocolate bar here, a pastry there and an ice cream in between – the corona kilos quickly increased. Experts warned that this could become a problem during the first lockdown. A current survey now shows how dramatic it is. According to statements by parents, the corona pandemic has had a negative impact on the eating and exercise behavior of many children and young people – and it has had a lasting effect. According to a survey, many minors have gained too much weight over the past two years, eat unhealthily and are less fit.
“We have never seen weight gain on the scale seen since the pandemic began. This is alarming, because obesity can lead to high blood pressure, fatty liver or diabetes in children and adolescents,” said Susann Weihrauch-Blüher from the German Obesity Society when presenting the results. The age group between ten and twelve years is particularly affected.
“The consequences of the pandemic must be absorbed, otherwise the ‘corona kilos’ will boomerang for the health of an entire generation,” demanded the director of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Center for Nutritional Medicine at the Technical University of Munich, Hans Hauner. According to the survey of parents, every sixth child in Germany has become fatter since the beginning of the pandemic, almost half move less than before, and around a quarter eat more sweets. In return, according to parents’ estimates, media use increased for around 70 percent of the minors.
“Habits changed by lockdowns do not seem to be temporary,” the experts conclude. Children from low-income families and children who are already overweight are particularly affected.
For the study, the opinion research institute Forsa interviewed a total of 1,004 parents with children aged three to 17 in March and April 2022.
Since around half of the questions were identical to a survey from the year 2000, the development since then has been traced – even if the experts assume that parents have often glossed over the information on unhealthy behavior.
This confirms what the sports scientist and former professional handball player Peter Gerfen saw coming in 2020. Two years ago he published his book “Children on the move – 100 tips against lack of exercise and malnutrition”. “Movement is fundamentally important for children,” warned Gerfen in an interview with FOCUS Online. “Because they live out their feelings about it and if this factor is missing, it has a negative effect on their psyche and their behavior.” Frustration, imbalance, but also aggression are the result.
More information about the book “Children on the move – 100 tips against lack of exercise and malnutrition” at bewegung-petergerfen.de
From a medical point of view, sporting activity in children and young people is important to prevent illnesses – be they metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, but also orthopedic problems such as back or pelvic misalignments.
Movement is also elementary for the development of the brain, said Gerfen: “Sport simulates the formation of new nerve cells and synapses and thus promotes memory and concentration”. This significantly promotes learning behavior. “Sport is simply important for healthy physical and mental development,” added the sports scientist.
As countermeasures, the experts recommend one
Analyzes had previously indicated that children spend more time consuming media and eat more sweets.
The body mass index (BMI) is suitable for estimating the body fat percentage. For the calculation, body weight is set in relation to body height. The BMI is calculated from the quotient of body weight and height squared (kg/m). It is the assessment basis for the weight classification:
You can calculate your BMI at the German Obesity Society, for example.
Parents of overweight children can find a lot of information and a map of Germany with treatment facilities on the website of the German Obesity Society.
You can also find a list of self-help group associations here:
The sports scientist Gerfen has many practical tips for parents in his book to motivate children to exercise more. This is the best way to counteract the kilos early on.
1. Make your children’s health and physical development your priority.
2. Ensure that the family has a healthy and balanced diet.
3. Encourage your child’s strengths, value their individuality.
4. Discuss with your child what exactly they want and don’t decide over their head.
5. Find out what kind of movement your child enjoys and suits him – these positive experiences will stimulate your child’s self-motivation.
6. Take advantage of club and other offers for your children – even if some things may still be restricted.
7. When doing sport, do not focus on the promotional aspect, but on having fun with exercise.
8. Don’t force a child into a sport, but consider their wishes. Pressure is not a solution!
9. Even hasty promises or rewards are not the right way – blackmail for good does not bring lasting success.
10. Sports lessons should be fixed dates in the calendar.
11. Only skip training in exceptional cases. A simple “I don’t like” is not a valid reason.
12. If your child frequently doesn’t feel like it, talk to them and find out what the problem is.
13. If the child has not enjoyed exercise for a long period of time, offer them alternatives and let them try other activities.
14. Give your child enough time for free and creative play.
15. Parents are role models for their children and should therefore behave as they would like their children to behave. Children should therefore also see that parents are moving out of their comfort zone in order to change things for the better.
16. Think positively, because this is the only way to achieve a fulfilled family life.
17. Praise your child, but not exaggeratedly, but in measured amounts and honestly. This motivates and promotes independence.