A new study shows an increase in children experiencing obesity locally because of the pandemic.

Dr. Wudeneh Mulugeta, a primary care provider at Cambridge Health Alliance based in Revere, said the increase in food insecurity — specifically access to healthy foods — may be contributing to this rise.

"We have a lot of kids who might be dependent on healthier school-based meals," said Mulugeta. "And with the pandemic and school closures, they may not have access to that. And especially for us, being in Revere, we had been one of the hardest hit communities by the pandemic. We have seen dramatic increases in food insecurity. We run there a free produce market with a local food bank at our health center. And since the pandemic, we have been serving two to three times more people at the market compared with pre-COVID times."

Dr. Bianca Shagrin is a pediatrician at Cambridge Health Alliance. Before the pandemic, she led intervention programs for young girls experiencing obesity. She said that she has found the most success in addressing habits like nutrition and exercise, as well as self-esteem and mental health.

"As a parent myself, I can just see children near the kitchen all day," Shagrin said. "So not just having less activity, but I think that the mental health issues that have come up also impact these behaviors. Food is soothing. It's something to do to get some enjoyment. So I think children are turning to it without other options right now, such as after school programs or even just getting together with classmates at lunch time."

And while there's many benefits to connecting with family, friends and co-workers over video conferencing, it's also being cited by many as a reason for at times unnecessary plastic surgery. We'll hear more about this so-called "zoom dysmorphia" from Dr. Shadi Kourosh. She's a board certified dermatologist and the director of community health at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full episode.


Dr. Wudeneh Mulugeta and Dr. Bianca Shagrin - 3:27
Dr. Shadi Kourosh - 17:36