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People of all ages across the country gained weight during the pandemic, for reasons ranging from being sedentary while working from home to stress snacking. But kids, who often rely on school to provide healthy meals and exercise opportunities, were put in an even tougher spot.

A 2021 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the rate of increase in body mass index of children ages 2 to 19 nearly doubled during the pandemic compared with earlier statistics.

Studies from across the country are displaying similar results. Research from the Journal of the American Medical Association from around the same time showed children ages 5 to 11 were most affected by weight gain.

Dr. Jeremy Mescher, a pediatrician with Riley Physicians in Bloomington, said he and his colleagues have seen an increase in patients struggling with weight since the pandemic began. But he doesn’t want to focus on the weight gain itself, which is often stigmatized, but rather the underlying causes.

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