• On the Move or Barely Moving? Age-Related Changes in Physical Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviors by Weekday/Weekend Following Pandemic Control Policies.

      Kuhn, Ann Pulling; Kowalski, Alysse J; Wang, Yan; Deitch, Rachel; Selam, Helina; Rahmaty, Zahra; Black, Maureen M; Hager, Erin R (MDPI AG, 2021-12-28)
      This study examined pre-pandemic (2017-early March 2020) to early-pandemic (Spring 2020) changes in moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA), light PA (LPA), and sedentary behavior/sleep (SS), by weekday/weekend, and age (preschool, elementary, middle school). We re-enrolled children from two pre-pandemic obesity prevention trials and examined differences in accelerometer-measured PA from pre-pandemic to early-pandemic across age groups using linear mixed models. Children (n = 75) were 51% multiple race/ethnicities, 29% preschool, 28% elementary, 43% middle school, 65% suburban, 21% rural, and 13% urban. Pre-pandemic to early-pandemic changes in weekday MVPA (p = 0.006), LPA (p = 0.018), and SS (p = 0.003) differed by age. On weekdays, middle schoolers' MVPA decreased 15.36 min/day (p = 0.002) and SS increased 94.36 min/day (p < 0.001) with non-significant changes among preschoolers and elementary schoolers. Compared to elementary schoolers, middle schoolers' changes in weekday MVPA (b = -16.34, p = 0.036) and SS (b = 63.28, p = 0.039) significantly differed. Declines in weekday MVPA and increases in SS among middle schoolers suggest that, compared with younger children, middle schoolers are dependent on school and recreational facilities for PA, and in their absence engage in more sedentary activities and sleep.
    • Pre-pandemic to early-pandemic changes in risk of household food insecurity among Maryland families with children.

      Kowalski, Alysse J; Kuhn, Ann Pulling; Lane, Hannah G; Trude, Angela C B; Selam, Helina; Hager, Erin R; Black, Maureen M (Cambridge University Press, 2021-12-10)
      Objective: The objective was to examine risk and protective factors associated with pre- to early-pandemic changes in risk of household food insecurity (FI). Design: We re-enrolled families from two statewide studies (2017-2020) in an observational cohort (May-August 2020). Caregivers reported on risk of household FI, demographics, pandemic-related hardships, and participation in safety net programs (e.g. CARES stimulus payment, school meals). Setting: Maryland, United States. Participants: Economically, geographically, and racially/ethnically diverse families with preschool to adolescent-age children. Eligibility included reported receipt or expected receipt of the CARES stimulus payment or a pandemic-related economic hardship (n=496). Results: Prevalence of risk of FI was unchanged (pre-pandemic: 22%, early-pandemic: 25%, p=0.27). Risk of early-pandemic FI was elevated for non-Hispanic Black (aRR=2.1 [95% CI 1.1, 4.0]) and Other families (aRR=2.6 [1.3, 5.4]) and families earning =300% federal poverty level. Among pre-pandemic food secure families, decreased income, job loss, and reduced hours were associated with increased early-pandemic FI risk (aRR=2.1 [1.2, 3.6] to 2.5 [1.5, 4.1]); CARES stimulus payment (aRR=0.5 [0.3, 0.9]) and continued school meal participation (aRR=0.2 [0.1, 0.9]) were associated with decreased risk. Among families at risk of FI pre-pandemic, safety net program participation was not associated with early-pandemic FI risk. Conclusions: The CARES stimulus payment and continued school meal participation protected pre-pandemic food secure families from early-pandemic FI risk but did not protect families who were at risk of FI pre-pandemic. Mitigating pre-pandemic FI risk and providing stimulus payments and school meals may support children's health and reduce disparities in response to pandemics. © The Authors 2021.
    • School Closures During COVID-19: Opportunities for Innovation in Meal Service

      Kinsey, Eliza W; Hecht, Amelie A; Dunn, Caroline Glagola; Levi, Ronli; Read, Margaret A; Smith, Courtney; Niesen, Pamela; Seligman, Hilary K; Hager, Erin R (American Public Health Association, 2020-09-17)
      In 2019, the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program served approximately 15 million breakfasts and 30 million lunches daily at low or no cost to students.Access to these meals has been disrupted as a result of long-term school closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially decreasing both student nutrient intake and household food security. By the week of March 23, 2020, all states had mandated statewide school closures as a result of the pandemic, and the number of weekly missed breakfasts and lunches served at school reached a peak of approximately 169.6 million; this weekly estimate remained steady through the final week of April.We highlight strategies that states and school districts are using to replace these missed meals, including a case study from Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture waivers that, in many cases, have introduced flexibility to allow for innovation. Also, we explore lessons learned from the pandemic with the goal of informing and strengthening future school nutrition policies for out-of-school time, such as over the summer.