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Fisher L, Nelson RE, Ertem Z, Schechter-Perkins EM, Oster E, Branch-Elliman W. Lack of Association between Pandemic School Mode Policy and Pediatric Body Mass Index Percentile over Time. Childhood obesity (Print). 2022 Aug 24.
During the 2020-2021 academic year, schools across the country were closed for prolonged periods. Prior research suggests that children tend to gain more weight during times of extended school closures, such as summer vacation; however, little is known about the impact of school learning mode on changes. Thus, the aim of this study was to measure the association between school mode (in-person, hybrid, remote) and pediatric body mass index (BMI) percentile increases over time. In this longitudinal, statewide retrospective cohort study in Massachusetts, we found that BMI percentile increased in elementary and middle school students in all learning modes, and that increases slowed but did not reverse following the statewide reopening. Body mass percentile increases were highest in elementary school aged children. Hispanic ethnicity and receipt of Medicaid insurance were also associated with increases. Additional research is needed to identify strategies to combat pediatric body mass percentile increases and to address disparities.