French study raises questions over Malaysian children’s physical, intellectual development caused by extended lockdowns

A recent study reveals the successive lockdowns in France have had a “catastrophic” impact on children’s health and cognitive skills.

Researchers said the body mass index (BMI) of children in France had increased by an average of two to three points, as active children with no health or weight problems put on five to 10kg because they stopped doing sport.

The children’s cognitive skills had diminished by up to 40 per cent in some cases, with some struggling to run short distances without running out of breath.

The results of the study were described as “catastrophic” by Martine Duclos, head of the National Observatory of Physical Activity and Sedentariness (ONAPS) and coordinator of the study.

Taking the cue from the study, one wonders if the same can be said about children in Malaysia.

Malaysia too, has seen numerous lockdowns since March last year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In her latest column in news website Getaran, Twentytwo13’s managing editor Pearl Lee highlighted that Malaysians in general were already battling with obesity even before Covid-19.

“It was reported that since 2015, Malaysia has the most obese population in Asia,” wrote Pearl.

“A 2019 research by Unicef showed Malaysian children were the second most obese in Southeast Asia.

“Obesity among children was already a problem in Malaysia even before the pandemic.”

She said if children stopped being active when they were young, what would happen to them when they hit 30?

“I shared the findings of the French study on Twitter and received several comments, including the need for Malaysia to carry out a similar study so that our children will be allowed to play outdoors and for schools to reopen,” she added.

“Our lives have changed drastically since the pandemic. Isn’t it time for us to take the initiative to ensure that more Malaysians adopt a healthier lifestyle?”

Read Pearl’s article on www.getaran.my.

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