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Sociodemographic Variation in Children’s Health Behaviors During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Background: Societal changes during the COVID-19 pandemic may affect children’s health behaviors and exacerbate disparities. This study aimed to describe children’s health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic, how they vary by sociodemographic characteristics, and the extent to which parent coping strategies mitigate the impact of pandemic-related financial strain on these behaviors. Methods: This study used pooled data from 50 cohorts in the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes Program. Children or parent proxies reported sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, and parent coping strategies. Results: Of 3315 children aged 3-17 years, 49% were female and 57% were non-Hispanic white. Children of parents who reported food access as a source of stress were 35% less likely to engage in a higher level of physical activity. Children of parents who changed their work schedule to care for their children had 82 fewer min/day of screen time and 13 more min/day of sleep compared with children of parents who maintained their schedule. Parents changing their work schedule were also associated with a 31% lower odds of the child consuming sugar-sweetened beverages. Conclusions: Parents experiencing pandemic-related financial strain may need additional support to promote healthy behaviors. Understanding how changes in parent work schedules support shorter screen time and longer sleep duration can inform future interventions.

Authors: Bekelman, Traci A; Ferrara, Assiamira; Hedderson, Monique M; program collaborators for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO),; et al.

Child Obes. 2022 Jul 19.

PubMed abstract

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