The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and subsequent containment measures are causing an increase in food insecurity (FI) worldwide, with direct consequences on children’s nutrition.
We aimed to investigate the effects of the lockdown imposed in Italy on FI and changes in eating habits and body weight in the pediatric population 6 months after the beginning of the pandemic through a cross-sectional online survey proposed to parents of children <18 and living in Italy.
Among 5811 respondents, most of whom were Italian, living in Northern Italy, and with a wealthy household economy, 8.3% reported that their families were at risk of FI before the appearance of SARS-CoV-2 and, alarmingly, this percentage increased to 16.2% after the pandemic began, with households from Southern Italy being more at risk. Moreover, 27.3% of the parents reported that their children were eating more; an increase in “junk food” consumption was also found; 31.8% of the respondents declared an increase in children’s weight; weight loss prevailed among adolescents. Since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is again requiring restrictions, our findings might serve as a warning to politicians to promote healthy lifestyles and provide assistance to the groups in need.