Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cardiometabolic health among Latino, Black, and Pacific Islander children in San Francisco, CA

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COVID-19 related closures of schools, playgrounds, and recreational facilities limited children’s ability to be physically active and access healthy meals. In addition, children gained weight more rapidly during the pandemic than before and were more likely to develop either overweight or obesity. At the same time, there were several policies put in to place to help buffer the effects of pandemic related closures. These included flexibility in the delivery of school meals, increases in Cal Fresh benefits, and pandemic EBT. Local efforts in San Francisco included food vouchers offered by community-based organizations, home delivery for vulnerable families from food banks, and the Slow Streets initiative that restricted vehicle traffic in specified areas to promote outdoor recreation.

The purpose of this project is to gain a better understanding of how COVID-19 related policies impacted children’s health behaviors (i.e. screen time, physical activity, and diet), weight gain, and health complications related to weight gain including high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, and pre-diabetes. We will first analyze data from electronic medical records of children in San Francisco to determine change in weight gain and obesity related conditions prior to, during and after the period in which schools were closed for in-person learning. In addition, we will conduct interviews and focus groups with parents of Latino, Black, and Pacific Islander children in San Francisco as well as with staff members of community-based organizations who serve children in these communities. The purpose of the focus groups and interviews will be to obtain an in-depth understanding of how the pandemic impacted children’s health behaviors, which policies were most helpful in buffering those impacts, and what resources are needed to improve children’s access to physical activity and healthy food in the pandemic recovery period.

Collaborators

  • The Jamestown Community Center
  • Samoan Community Development Center
  • United Playaz
  • Youth 1st
  • Good Samaritan Family Resource Center