With families locked in their homes for weeks due to COVID-19, data shows these restrictions have had a negative impact on kids’ health.

In a study published in the journal Obesity, researchers at the University at Buffalo collected data showing that lockdowns implemented across the world due to the pandemic have negatively impacted diet, sleep and physical activity among children with obesity.

Compared to behaviors recorded the year before, the children ate an additional meal every day. They slept an extra half hour per day. They spent nearly five hours per day using their phones, computers and TVs. And they dramatically increased their consumption of red meat, sugary drinks and junk foods.

Unfortunately, kids engaged in two hours less physical activity each week.

This data emphasizes the importance of somehow getting kids back into schools this fall, as children and adolescents typically gain more weight during summer vacation than during the school year – without lockdowns and activity restrictions.

Since behaviors established in childhood correlate with their likelihood to maintain healthy behaviors as they get older, the quicker we can get kids eating healthier, cutting back on screen time, and exercising every day the better.