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Article

The Effects of COVID-19 on the Eating Habits of Children and Adolescents in Italy: A Pilot Survey Study

1
Department of Medical and Surgical Science, University Magna Grecia, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
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Department of Health Science, University Magna Grecia, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
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Nutrition Unit, University Magna Grecia, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
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Department Biomedical Science for Heath, University of Milan, 20133 Milano, Italy
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Research Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Metabolic Diseases, University Magna Grecia, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University Magna Græcia, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sebastian Schmid
Received: 29 June 2021 / Revised: 27 July 2021 / Accepted: 28 July 2021 / Published: 30 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of COVID-19 on Lifestyle Behaviors in Children with Obesity)
Nutrition during childhood and adolescence is very important for growth and can have long-term health implications. The COVID-19 lockdown caused significant changes in everyday life, including in children and adolescents. This study evaluated the effects of the first COVID-19 lockdown on eating habits and body weight in children and adolescents. An online cross-sectional survey was carried out among the parents of children (5–9 years) and adolescents (10–14 years) living in Italy. The online self-administered questionnaire included demographic and anthropometric data (reported weight and height) weight and dietary habit changes during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy (March to June 2020). A total of 439 participants were included. We found a change in eating habits with an increase in consumption of sweet packaged snacks (34%) and processed meat (25%), as well as bread, pizza and bakery products (47%). We also found an increase in vegetable, fresh fruit and legume intake (19%), and a reduction in sweet beverage and candy intake. A total of 59.7% of the participants reported body weight gain, with adolescents gaining more than children (67% vs. 55%, p = 0.010, respectively). In children, body weight gain was associated with a change in body height and increased consumption of dairy products and sweet packaged snacks, while in adolescents it was associated with an increased intake of comfort foods and processed meat. Our data highlighted the need to carefully monitor eating behaviors to avoid the establishment of unhealthy eating habits and prevent obesity in children and adolescents during periods of self-isolation. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; eating habits; body weight gain; children; adolescents; obesity COVID-19; eating habits; body weight gain; children; adolescents; obesity
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pujia, R.; Ferro, Y.; Maurotti, S.; Khoory, J.; Gazzaruso, C.; Pujia, A.; Montalcini, T.; Mazza, E. The Effects of COVID-19 on the Eating Habits of Children and Adolescents in Italy: A Pilot Survey Study. Nutrients 2021, 13, 2641. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13082641

AMA Style

Pujia R, Ferro Y, Maurotti S, Khoory J, Gazzaruso C, Pujia A, Montalcini T, Mazza E. The Effects of COVID-19 on the Eating Habits of Children and Adolescents in Italy: A Pilot Survey Study. Nutrients. 2021; 13(8):2641. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13082641

Chicago/Turabian Style

Pujia, Roberta, Yvelise Ferro, Samantha Maurotti, Janin Khoory, Carmine Gazzaruso, Arturo Pujia, Tiziana Montalcini, and Elisa Mazza. 2021. "The Effects of COVID-19 on the Eating Habits of Children and Adolescents in Italy: A Pilot Survey Study" Nutrients 13, no. 8: 2641. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13082641

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