Lockdowns and various other disruptions, which led to the closure of schools in England and across the United Kingdom in the last two and a half years, could cause “substantial long-term damage” to children Sir Chris Whitty has said.
Speaking in a conference, Sir Chris Whitty, who serves as the chief medical officer of England and chief medical adviser to the United Kingdom's government, said that many aspects of public health had “gone backward” over the last two years.
Referring to a series of health problems which included childhood obesity, Whitty outlined how evidence has already shown an impact on the mental health of children with a rise in eating disorders, but warned “many longer-term consequences may yet be seen.”
Sir Chris also remarked that the elderly had suffered from long periods of isolation as he told the public to refrain from seeing loved ones in fear of “infecting them.”
As detailed by the Telegraph, Whitty said:
I think there’s a big worry about the effects on the mental health of particularly older people for long periods where people were lonely because people for good public health reasons didn’t want to infect elderly or vulnerable people, but therefore they had less contact.
That is something which we do not know the effects of, but it seems unlikely there’ll be anything other than a problem, and the impacts of disrupted schooling on some children is going to be very substantial... The long-term effects of which it’ll be very difficult, I think, to tell.
Immediately, for example, it does look as if there’s been some impact on some children, and young people having eating disorders.
The chief medical officer for England also stated a warning that a significant number of cancers were likely to have been missed as a result of screening being halted during the COVID crisis, meaning cases would be caught later and be increasingly more difficult to treat.
“Screening coverage has dropped for many of the important diseases, and the risk of this is that over the next two to three years we will be facing a situation where people will be presenting with breast cancer, with cervical cancer for example, at a later stage than they previously would have done. As we all know, with cancers, early diagnosis leads to much better outcomes and much more non-invasive treatments,” Whitty cautioned.
Whitty also commented on the many different aspects of health care that had deteriorated since the first lockdown in 2020.
“During the last two years obesity, particularly in children, has got significantly worse, and the reasons for this, I think, are complex,” Whitty said.