Impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on child growth and cardiometabolic risk

Anderson, Laura N | $429,706

Ontario McMaster University 2022 CIHR Operating Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the daily life of Canadians, including children and parents. Child growth monitoring through primary care is an established practice to promote optimal growth, including the prevention of underweight and obesity. With the widespread and extended transition to virtual care during the pandemic, there have been limited opportunities for child growth monitoring. Evidence from recent studies and systematic reviews suggests that childhood obesity may have increased during the pandemic, but it is unknown if virtual primary care was a risk factor for this increase. In addition to changes in primary care availability, there have been unprecedented changes in obesity-related risk factors, including decreased access to recreation, increased screen time, increased exposure to stress, and socioeconomic hardships, including food insecurity. All of these factors may have increased the risk of adverse growth trajectories for both children and parents and potentially increased cardiometabolic risk, including dyslipidemia and high blood pressure. The overall aims of this study are to prospectively evaluate the changes in child growth from pre- to post-pandemic and to identify the risk factors associated with adverse growth patterns and cardiometabolic risk. We will conduct a prospective cohort study using extensive data collected pre- and mid-pandemic from TARGet Kids!. TARGet Kids is a primary care network in the Greater Toronto Area that was established in 2008 and includes more than 11,000 children. Our team has extensive experience with measuring child growth and cardiometabolic risk. This project will lead to important findings that will contribute to our understanding of the COVID‑19 pandemic on children and parents and will identify opportunities for primary or secondary prevention initiatives to reduce the potential indirect long-term adverse consequences of the pandemic.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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