Healthier habits start with small steps—and adult help.

For children, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant less exercise and socializing, and more screen time and snacking. Those factors put children at risk for weight gain and, potentially, health issues such as Type 2 diabetes. Children and adolescents with obesity are also at risk for severe COVID-19 infection.

Statistics about the rate of children’s pandemic-related weight gain are not yet available. However, the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 18.9 percent of American children aged 2-19 are obese, a percentage that has more than tripled since the 1970s. The journal Obesity published research projecting the obesity rate would rise more than 4 percent during the pandemic if children remained out of school for only five months.

The Adult’s Role Children find it difficult to moderate their own behavior, so providing structure is a key component of fighting obesity. Together, families can incorporate daily routines, such as planned times for meals and mealpreparation, regular walks and family activities and regular bedtimes.It’s also important for parents to model good behavior for their children. Eating well and exercising helps both adults and children cope with stress and stay healthy.

Small steps can create meaningful change. They include cutting down on high calorie drinks and making healthy snacks available, such as trail mix, nuts and cut up fruits and vegetables with yogurt dip.

Parents and guardians can make time for daily movement with children, such as taking a walk, following along to an online exercise class or turning chores into a competitive race or game.

To find a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, call 973-926-7280 or visit

KidsFit focuses on cultivating healthy lifestyles and behaviors KidsFit is a nine-week, all-inclusive wellness program offered at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center that teaches children, teens and their families how to live a healthier life through nutrition and physical activity. The KidsFit team includes a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and social worker. The team addresses treatment and prevention of obesity and focuses on cultivating healthy lifestyles and
behaviors. KidsFit was developed by RWJBarnabas Health’s registered dietitians, who were determined to take a proactive approach in helping to address the epidemic of childhood obesity.

For more information about KidsFit, call 973.926.3312