People with obesity have a higher likelihood of falling sick with COVID-19.   With Coronavirus spreading throughout the world in 2020 and perhaps in the future, many people should be considered at increased risk for severe disease of COVID-19.  This is particularly true for people with moderate to severe obesity, whose compromised physiological state and burden of complications is generally higher.

Moreover, for people with severe obesity, management of severe COVID-19 may also be compromised by challenges in diagnosis and treatment caused by the devastating effects of their obesity.

In today’s America, junk, processed and fast food, along with soda, are relentlessly hawked by corporations to an increasingly obese public. In other words, the excess calories, sugar, salt and bad fat that we’re eating and drinking are slowly killing us.

Now, they’re also lending a helping hand to COVID-19—the new “enemy.”

Data unequivocally shows that being obese and/or having diet-related diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes or heart disease, or the conditions that flow from these like kidney failure, myocardial infarction, and strokes are responsible for 90 percent of non-age related hospitalizations from COVID-19. So, if it isn’t bad enough that diabetes leads to amputations, blindness and dialysis, it also is a highly correlated factor for virus-related deaths.

Aside from the heartbreak of increased vulnerability to COVID-19, there’s a crippling economic cost. In a truly scandalous situation, America now spends about 20 percent of its health care dollars on obesity-related diseases.

It’s not like we haven’t been warned. Medical experts have been trying to get us to wake up and smell the roasted vegetables, nuts,  fruits, fish, lean organic meat, and whole grains for years.

Sadly, however, when Michelle Obama championed her Let’s Move initiative, which included a healthy diet for school age children, she was laughed at by some and ridiculed by others. These pundits were fine with pepperoni pizza, sloppy Joes and soda being on the menu. Recently, TV’s Bizarre Foods host, Andrew Zimmern, in a video interview, decried the role the American diet is playing in COVID-19 morbidity. Too bad we didn’t listen to the First Lady.

One explanation as to why we allow ourselves and our children to eat so poorly is our inability to see the long-term consequences of our short-term behavior. For example, if smoking caused cancer the next day, a lot less people would smoke. It’s the same with food choices. The immediate pleasure of sugary sodas, chips, and candies outweighs the possibly of dialysis a decade later.

Why would we steadfastly deny the obvious? Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emeriti, at New York University and author of Food Politics, Soda Politics, The Unsavory Truth, and many other books, told Worth, “The coronavirus pandemic poignantly illustrates why we need food systems devoted as much or more to public health as they are to profit. Profit-making is what drives food companies to push junk foods on us as hard as they can and to lobby government to make sure they can do so with impunity—what happens to human health be damned. If the pandemic teaches us anything, it is that we need a government that supports public health over corporate health.”

Until public policy steps in, nonprofits, such as Wholesome Wave, are helping. Through their efforts with both nonprofits and corporations, fruits and vegetables have been made available to low-income Americans.

When the current crisis moderates and we catch our collective breaths, it will be a good time to look into what food is doing to make our society so health-compromised, so susceptible to new threats. From farmer to consumer, we cannot afford to continue weaponizing our diet against ourselves. Instead, we need our food policies to keep us safe. “Business as usual” should no longer apply. We must clearly see that allowing agribusiness to profit as they have takes a financial and human toll on all of us.

Until then, preventing, controlling, and mitigating overweight and obesity will likely slow the spread of COVID-19 disease.  With the prevalence of obesity at 42.4% in America as of 2017~2018, the country needs to begin paying attention to this situation quick. [Read CDC National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data brief].

Please contact Dr. Syverain Weight Loss Clinic at 408-294-9234 or 650-368-3048 or to begin a weight loss program that not only will help you to lose weight, but also to maintain it after.