Tell me how much you’ve gained weight and I’ll tell you what class you’re from. The result of a recently published Forsa study can be summed up in this simple sentence, according to which every sixth child gained weight during the pandemic.

The causes are pretty clear at first glance: around a quarter ate more sweets and almost half exercised less than before. This is a scale that did not exist before the pandemic. Experts are alarmed accordingly.

After all, obesity in childhood does not remain without consequences, but leads to diseases such as high blood pressure, fatty liver or diabetes. The psyche of the adolescents is also damaged: 43 percent of the children and adolescents surveyed reported that the pandemic had “moderately” or “heavily burdened” them.

There is no question that all children have suffered from barricaded playgrounds, homeschooling and the associated social isolation. But if you take a closer look at the representative survey of 1004 parents and children between the ages of three and 17, it becomes clear that social background determines the weal and woe.

Children from low-income families are twice as likely to be affected by weight gain and mental stress as children from wealthy families. It is therefore a question of layers, which child will feel the consequences of the pandemic.

While the high earners in Hamburg-Eppendorf found time in the home office to cook a seitan curry with organic ingredients for themselves and their loved ones, the single parent geriatric nurse in Duisburg-Marxloh could not shift her working hours to the home office. Meanwhile, their children ate frozen pizza, sweets and chips.

The sociologist Klaus Hurrelmann coined the term “generation permanent crisis”. For children from high-income homes, it may take years – which is bad enough.

For their peers from supposedly humble backgrounds, the pandemic can set the course in the direction of the sidelines: they run the risk of becoming overweight, chronically ill and mentally disturbed.

The initiators of the study are therefore calling for a “Marshall Plan for Children’s Health” with therapy programs and a tax on unhealthy foods.

We can pay the price for a healthy generation today or for a sick one in the decades to come. The societal consequential damage is like fat cells: once they are there, they will not go away.