CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country closed their doors.
This move disrupted routines, increased stress and led to weight gain among children and teens.
"Parents need to be in charge of diet and management, parents decide when children eat and what they eat," said pediatrician Dr. Eric Baggerman.
These increases are not just about a child's eating habits. Lirone Speak is the sports director at the YMCA and also is an older brother.
"I also coached him as well for 5 years already so we just have an inseparable bond," Speak said, adding his 11-year-old brother is different and adventurous. When he's not at football practice, he's visiting the Y.
"I was outside staying busy being active," Rae-taj Jackson said. "Playing basketball, playing football."
Speak helped keep his brother safe and active during the pandemic.
"I try to encourage him, let's go outside, let's go play football," Speak said. "We got all this free time now, there's no excuses."
The Centers for Disease Control reports that the percentage of obese children and teens increased to 22 percent, a 3 percent rise since 2019.
The biggest jump was seen in younger school-aged children and those who were already prone to obesity.
Baggerman said this was already a problem in South Texas before the COVID-19 pandemic. And being stuck at home didn't help.
"All these factors that contribute to the weight management were multiple during the pandemic," Baggerman said. "Factors like activity, eating, screen time."
Baggerman says most children that went into the pandemic overweight or obese experienced the largest increase, adding that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about movement.
"Activity for children should be fun," he said. "And I highly encourage it to be outside."
Activity can be through whatever means. Noggin, Nickelodeon's interactive learning platform designed for young children, recently released its Big Heart Beats Album.
Makeda Mays Green, vice president of digital consumer insights for Nickelodeon, says this collection of music is meant to to get kid's blood pumping.
"It encourages kids to get up and move, they can express themselves creatively, they can support their social and emotional development skills in the messages throughout all the songs," Green said.
Singing and dancing, the ultimate dance party anyone can join.
You can access the Big Heart Beats album here.