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Ongoing school closures could lead to increase in childhood obesity, diabetes: Dr. Siegel

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Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel blasted the Biden administration Thursday for allowing public school shutdowns in the U.S. to continue as students struggle to stay afloat at home.

Siegel cited a recent Fox News report detailing an uptick in children’s weight due to pandemic-related difficulties, including disrupted sleep cycles and too much time sitting idly during virtual learning.

“Playgrounds are closed. Children are in front of computer screens, if they even have a computer,” Siegel told “Fox News Primetime” host Rachel Campos-Duffy. “They are doing binge eating. They are doing comfort food snacking. There’s nobody there to remind them of anything. There’s no fruits or vegetables.”

Siegel blamed school closures for disrupted sleep cycles and a decline in activity tied to virtual learning, specifically among kids battling obesity and high blood pressure. 

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“One out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese to begin with,” he said. “When we have this situation, we have a growing amount of depression. We have 25% increase in visits for mental health emergencies from children, not to mention all the anxiety and all the depression. It all comes from lack of exercise, not sleeping right, not getting to see your friends or talk to your friends and not eating properly.”

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“I want to tell you, as an internist, we are talking about risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, risks of heart disease. It goes up dramatically with inactivity and obesity,” he explained.

Siegel blamed “the politics of fear,” for the debilitating closures, imposed by those who believe themselves to be “self-important by restriction.”

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“We knew a long time ago that schools were safe places to go,” he said, calling the continued closures an “absolute disgrace.”

“There is no downside. The risk of transmission within schools is actually lower and the risk from children to teachers, extremely low,” he said, “and the risk of children getting sick, very, very low. We have known that for a long time.”

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