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Children's nutritional intake deteriorates amid COVID-19 pandemic: survey

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
The new coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on children's nutritional intake and other aspects of welfare, a survey by a nongovernmental group showed Tuesday.

A survey by Seoul-based charity group Good Neighbors, conducted in June on 6,750 children from age 4-18 and their parents, showed that the rate of children who ate three meals a day on a regular basis stood at 35.9 percent.

The number represents a significant drop from the annual average of 50.1 percent in 2018, yielded by a similar survey from the group in the past.

Of those surveyed, 36 percent of parents said their household income fell following the pandemic.

The survey also highlighted other inconveniences that have otherwise been considered children's basic rights. The restriction of outdoor activities and play under social distancing was considered the biggest inconvenience, with 23.6 percent.

"Remote learning and submitting homework," "not being able to meet friends" and "quarrels with parents over internet use or gaming" followed, with 20.2 percent, 15.7 percent and 12.9 percent, respectively.

Among middle school students and younger children, the inability to rest and play was the biggest inconvenience, while high school students found the restrictions in proper education were the biggest deprivation during the pandemic.

Student respondents were generally satisfied with the infrastructure for online learning, giving it an average score of 75.7, but the quality of class interaction and aspects of homework were considered as relatively weaker, scoring 55.3 and 56, respectively.

"Economic hardships of families from COVID-19 are negatively affecting the overall lives of children, such as education, play and rest, child care and mental state," a researcher at Good Neighbors said.

"The government and the local community should take more responsibility in preparing customized policies for children from economically vulnerable families," she added. (Yonhap)
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