As the coronavirus pandemic celebrates its first anniversary in the USA, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently hosted a virtual panel discussion on the topic, “What’s Happening to the Children?” Of the subject matter, journalist Alyson Sulaski Wyckoff says,
Mental health, academic under-achievement, food and housing insecurity, racial discrimination and obesity were top of mind.
Housing is so basic and fundamental to everything else. Here is an interesting digression: If you search a string of terms like percentage + income + rent, a number of websites will say that you should spend 30% of your income on rent. “Should” is a very bossy word, and the concept is even called the 30% “rule.”
However, back in the 1960s, young girls in Home Economics class were taught that a family should spend no more than one quarter of its income on rent. It was a known thing, like washing hands after going to the bathroom. If you were a prudent, responsible, sane head of household, 25% of income was the socially acceptable upper limit for rent.
Chicanery in action
Over the years, that very important goalpost has been moved and then obliterated. Now we have situations where people are paying half their income to share a room with six others. Housing insecurity is a huge problem, because not having a place to live makes every other problem exponentially worse. Millions of people have been evicted or face eviction. Some rules are in place, but so are greedy strategies, invented by ill-intentioned minds that specialize in circumventing and ignoring rules.
In addition to getting people kicked out of living spaces, the pandemic has strangled the traditional workarounds. It used to be possible to live in a car and buy a gym membership to use the shower facilities. Then, gyms closed. It used to be possible to politely, unobtrusively spend the day in a public library. Then, libraries closed. It used to be possible to find the occasional free meal, until the pandemic messed up all those programs. Food banks that used to have block-long waiting lines, now have miles-long lines that are not even accessible by people who don’t have wheels.
Food insecurity is, to put it bluntly, the state of not knowing where the next meal will come from, and one of the panel members noted that in households with children, food insecurity has doubled in this notorious year. Childhood Obesity News has explored this subject as well as the deadly confluence between poverty, race, COVID-19, and, of course, obesity.
Childhood obesity is another ongoing issue. With shelter-in-place and remote learning, physical activity levels have fallen, said Dr. Eneli, associate director of the AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. In addition, chronic stress triggers responses in the body that can negatively impact weight regulation. Modeling studies predict at least a 3%-4% weight gain in children during the pandemic.
Among the suggested interventions are partnerships with schools and community groups, and more support for children and families.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Experts weigh in on top pediatric concerns a year into pandemic,” AAAPPublications.org, 02/22/21
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