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Covid lockdown Australia: Peter Collignon, Catherine Bennet explain link to obesity

One of Australia’s top Covid-19 experts says lockdowns have drastically affected the health of children as a study shows two years of coronavirus restrictions have made people fatter and unhealthier. 

Professor Peter Collignon, an influential infectious diseases physician with the Australian National University, shared a medical study on his Twitter in which American experts researched the link between the pandemic response and obesity in children and adolescents.

‘Lockdown measures affected healthy lifestyle behaviors through modification of dietary habits, reduction of physical activity and alteration of sleep patterns, and also increased the levels of stress and anxiety, overall promoting weight gain and obesity,’ Prof Collignon wrote on Twitter.

Professor Peter Collignon (pictured), an influential infectious diseases physician said ‘lockdown measures affected healthy lifestyle behaviors through modification of dietary habits, reduction of physical activity and alteration of sleep patterns’

Prof Collignon shared an American paper researching the link between the Covid-19 response and increased obesity in children and adolescents

Prof Collignon shared an American paper researching the link between the Covid-19 response and increased obesity in children and adolescents

'Pediatric overweight/obesity¿an alarming epidemic of increasing proportions, before Covid-19, has been demonstrated to be the most important independent risk factor for the development of severe infections in youths, requiring admission to hospital/ICUs,' Prof Collignon said.

‘Pediatric overweight/obesity—an alarming epidemic of increasing proportions, before Covid-19, has been demonstrated to be the most important independent risk factor for the development of severe infections in youths, requiring admission to hospital/ICUs,’ Prof Collignon said.

‘Paediatric overweight/obesity—an alarming epidemic of increasing proportions, before Covid-19, has been demonstrated to be the most important independent risk factor for the development of severe infections in youths, requiring admission to hospital/ICUs,’ Prof Collignon said. 

The paper published by the National Library of Medicine concluded, ‘the dramatic lifestyle changes forced by Covid-19-related lockdown promoted weight gain, with a stronger impact on obese subjects, at higher risk of severe infection.’

The study looked at both the risk factors of lockdown-induced weight increase and the impact of obesity on the risk of hospital admission in children and adolescents. 

It found a significant weight increase was reported in the majority of people tested with no apparent gender or age differences. 

The increase in obesity was found to be a result of the higher consumption of junk food accompanied by a reduction of physical activity.  

The study found a significant weight increase was reported in the majority of subjects tested with no apparent gender or age differences

The study found a significant weight increase was reported in the majority of subjects tested with no apparent gender or age differences

The study also concluded those who were classified as obese had a higher probability of being hospitalised  compared to the normal weight population and Covid-19 and obesity represent ‘epidemic conditions with detrimental impact’. 

Epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett told Daily Mail Australia the full effect Covid restrictions have had on the obesity epidemic are ‘not yet fully grasped’. 

Epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett says the full effect of Covid restrictions have had on the obesity epidemic are not yet fully grasped

Epidemiologist Professor Catherine Bennett says the full effect of Covid restrictions have had on the obesity epidemic are not yet fully grasped

‘It is one of those things we have been concerned about yet with obesity the challenge is those rates have been rising anyway, so the question is how much can be attributed to the increase from restrictions from Covid?’ Prof Bennett said.

‘Constraints on individual liberties, exercise, organised sport disruption in and outside of schools would all contribute to the nature of the problem. 

‘It is really important that we invest in actively understanding the impacts of Covid restrictions. It is crucial so we can put in place things that might help minimise the long term impacts and address the impacts in terms of obesity and chronic illness.’

Prof Bennett also said she had received numerous calls from young families, who said they reduced their friend size and movements out of fear of contracting Covid. 

‘Young families who are reducing their circulation, that can flow on to stopping kids going out and mixing with others or signing up for sporting teams and events, so the flow on impacts that can add to this obesity problem is complex,’ she said.

 ‘All these things we have put in place to tackle childhood obesity such as sporting grants and programs has been flipped so it is important we work with parents to get the balance between allowing these kids out to do these activities and managing the risk of contracting Covid.’

A UNESCO map showing how long schools were closed in certain countries during the two years of the pandemic showed Australian schools were closed for 44 weeks. 

The map showed students in New Zealand were kept at home for 24 weeks, while in the United States, schools were closed for 71 weeks and 51 weeks in Canada.

A UNESCO map (pictured) showing how long schools were closed in countries during the pandemic showed Australian schools were closed for 44 weeks

A UNESCO map (pictured) showing how long schools were closed in countries during the pandemic showed Australian schools were closed for 44 weeks

The US study showed increased increased obesity was a result of lockdowns as a result of a higher consumption of junk food accompanied by the reduction of physical activity (pictured, students at Tweed Heads Public School)

The US study showed increased increased obesity was a result of lockdowns as a result of a higher consumption of junk food accompanied by the reduction of physical activity (pictured, students at Tweed Heads Public School)

In a lengthy interview with Daily Mail Australia earlier this year, Dr Nick Coatsworth described what has worked best in the nation’s response to the virus, what could have been done better and where we are heading.

He also slammed the ‘loud voices’ he said were still scaring Australians who should by now be learning to live with Covid.

Dr Coatsworth maintained restrictions should be removed as soon as they were not demonstrably necessary and he said he would continue speaking out when an issue such as forcing children to wear masks at schools bothered him.

‘My preference was always to look at the benefits and consequences of whatever restriction was brought in,’ he said.

‘I’ve thought in general that we were too slow to realise the negative consequences of most of the restrictions.’

The Sydney-born, Perth-raised doctor and father-of-three said unlike other experts, he was an optimist.

‘I think we’re in a good spot in the pandemic compared to other nations,’ he said. 

Dr Coatsworth (pictured in 2020) has chimed in to a Twitter thread initiated by Professor Francois Balloux, who gave four reasons for extended school closures in the UK

‘The starting point is keeping children at school and starting the term as plan. All subsequent actions flow from that,’ Dr Coatsworth said earlier this year

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk