The COVID-19 Lockdown Increased Obesity Disparities; Will the Increases in Type 2 Diabetes Continue?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)




diabetes; disparities; obesity; prevalence


OBJECTIVE: To compare the prevalence of the increases in pediatric obesity during the COVID-19 lockdown with the annual increases in obesity in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). METHODS: We compared the increase in the prevalence of obesity in two reports of increases in the prevalence of obesity in youth during the COVID-19 lockdown to the annual rate of increase in obesity in NHANES. RESULTS: When expressed as multiples, the changes in prevalence among elementary school children observed in two population-based surveys were 16-48 times greater than the annual changes in the prevalence of obesity observed in NHANES. Increases in Black and Hispanic youth were greater than those in Whites. The net impact of the COVID-19 lockdown increased the disparities in obesity among this age group. CONCLUSIONS: The rapid increases in obesity are likely to persist, and may be associated with an increase in the prevalence of severe obesity as these children age. Furthermore, the increased susceptibility to diabetes in Hispanic and Black children, and the reported increase in diabetes among 0-18 yo during the COVID-19 pandemic, may lead to an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes in minority youth with obesity.


Prevention and Community Health