A hidden side of the COVID-19 pandemic in children: the double burden of undernutrition and overnutrition
Boutaina Zemrani; Mario Gehri; Eric Masserey (et al.)
Published: January 2021
Journal: International Journal for Equity in Health volume
The COVID-19 pandemic has deteriorated key determinants of health and caused major upheavals around the
world. Children, although less directly affected by the virus, are paying a heavy price through the indirect effects of
the crisis, including poor diet, mental health impact, social isolation, addiction to screens and lack of schooling and
health care, particularly among vulnerable groups. This paper is aimed at discussing the potential impact of this
pandemic on children’s nutrition and lifestyle. Preliminary data from the literature and from our survey show
significant disruptions in nutrition and lifestyle habits of children. While undernutrition is expected to worsen in
poor countries, obesity rates could increase in middle- and high-income countries especially among precarious
groups widening the gap in health and social inequalities.
The real impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children extends well beyond that of a viral infection. This crisis has
public health implications that could have life-long consequences on children. It requires effective and targeted
measures mainly for vulnerable children and households to guarantee children’s basic rights for optimal nutrition,
health and development.