Changes in children’s fitness, BMI and health-related quality of life after England’s first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020: a longitudinal study

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J Sport Sci. 9:1-9 March 2022. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2022.2047504. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

Our aim was to assess one-year changes in fitness, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and body mass index (BMI), encompassing the UK 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. The data was collected (October 2019, November 2020) from 178 children aged 8-10 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, 85% of whom belong to the most deprived quintile in England. Twenty meter shuttle run test performance (20mSRT), hand grip strength (HGS), standing long jump (SBJ), sit-and-reach, height, body mass, HRQoL (questionnaire Kidscreen-27) and participation in a sports club were measured. BMI and overweight/obesity z-scores were calculated (≥85th percentile). Paired t-tests and linear regression assessed change, adjusting for baseline BMI. Significant changes (p-2), overweight/obesity (33% to 47%), SBJ (+6.8 cm) and HGS (+1.5 kg); decreased performance 20mSRT (-3 shuttles), sit-and-reach (-1.8cm). More children at follow-up were classified as “very poor” for 20mSRT performance (35% baseline vs. 51%). Increased BMI z-score was associated with decreased “physical well-being” quality of life. Follow-up sports club participation was associated with better performance on 20mSRT (p=0.032) and HRQoL “Autonomy and parents” (p=0.011), “Social support and peers” (p=0.038). Children’s 20mSRT performance and BMI changed negatively over one year; national lockdowns have potentially made negative contributions. Fitness, physical activity and sport programs should be part of children’s physical and mental recovery from the pandemic.

PMID:35262450 | DO I:10.1080/02640414.2022.2047504

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