No one wants to hear this, but it looks like we are in for a long, cold dark winter of isolation. There is an ongoing debate over sheltering in place. Is it worse for a lone person, or for someone stuck inside with family members they may love, but don’t particularly want to be in 24/7 contact with?
The answer is, both. Loneliness and the lack of social stimulation can lead to bad problems, but at this point, many parents would rather be marooned on an iceberg or an asteroid than spend another day with their beloved offspring. The most famous quotation from Jean-Paul Sartre is, “Hell is other people,” and many parents are muttering under their breath right now, “I can attest to that. The old philosopher must have known my kids.”
Yes, it matters very much
We hope to prevent children from gaining inappropriate weight because, aside from the increased risk of having a bad time with COVID-19, obesity is, in and of itself, a very unhealthy condition with many adverse consequences. Keeping children away from other people causes problems on every level. Unable to interact with relatives outside the nuclear family, distanced from their friends, kids are emotionally deprived. Parents have their own problems and sometimes, regrettably, parents are the problem. At any rate, emotional turmoil is a notorious obesity villain.
Without diversions like park visits, movies, or even tagging along to the grocery store, children are B-O-R-E-D. Boredom is, notoriously, a cause of recreational eating, otherwise known as eatertainment.
The villain of villains
Obesity is far from being the only problem created by the necessity to observe greater or lesser levels of separation. For the title of “Worst COVID-19 Co-Conspirator,” obesity is in competition with a lot of other serious players. However, a lot of the other inconveniences and tragedies caused by the virus also contribute to obesity. The virus has both direct and indirect effects on the obesity pandemic. The other problems somehow manage to find ways to contribute to obesity by providing emotional deprivation, boredom, or both.
Kids are missing meals and don’t have the technology they need for remote learning but do have nightmares, and sometimes they wet their beds. They are living in more poverty, missing their vaccinations, seeing their dental and other medical needs (including childhood obesity monitoring) set aside. Child abuse is rampant, orphanages are short-staffed, foster parents are afraid to take kids, and the adoption process is bottlenecked.
According to research curated by two venerable institutions, children make up 11.3% of America’s infected population. That’s based on a total of 927,518, which is inching up on a million pretty fast. Typically, issues receive more attention when numbers exceed a million. For bringing this to our attention, these are the people to thank, and the linked page is the place to find a trove of information:
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association are collaborating to collect and share all publicly available data from states on child COVID-19.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report,” AAP.org 11/05/20
Image by Kurt Bauschardt/CC BY-SA 2.0