Mothers, Babies, and COVID-19

Almost a year ago, Sarah Cuschieri & Stephan Grech titled a Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders article “COVID-19: a one-way ticket to a global childhood obesity crisis?” The point being, mothers and children are not only at risk of death or serious disability. As with so many other health issues, childhood obesity is woven right into the fabric of the coronavirus pandemic.

Much has been written about the effect of the environment on babies and young children. Is the air polluted? Can they get enough healthful food to build their young bodies? Is the noise level harmful? Are their neighborhoods safe to play in? The first and most important environment that a baby ever lives in is its mother’s uterus, and of course “the presence of obesity during pregnancy has been linked with childhood obesity as well as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. ”

The authors go on to say that, as the pandemic picked up steam, pregnant women were recognized as a vulnerable group, and some governments told them to stay home if at all possible. Here is the problem. These women had to monitor their own health, to a very great extent, without the up-close-and-personal guidance they had been led to expect from traditional prenatal care in the pre-COVID years. Thus…

[…] as part of the containment measures to curb the viral spread, most of the routine hospital visits were temporarily cancelled or postponed including the antenatal routine check-ups… Such stress might have led to pregnant women to indulge in easily accessible food while following a sedentary lifestyle with potential weight again and deterrent effects on the unborn child.

In the fall of 2020, the Centers for Disease Control made public what it had learned from keeping track of 598 pregnant women whose infection with COVID-19 had been confirmed. They were more likely than others to be hospitalized and more likely to require the advanced services of the Intensive Care Unit. Just over half of them were asymptomatic, so being diagnosed came as a surprise.

Dr. Jeanne Sheffield of Johns Hopkins wrote at the time,

One-fifth of the hospitalized women had underlying medical conditions. There was a 2% pregnancy loss rate, and a small increase in preterm deliveries.

There is still limited information about whether COVID-19 in particular is associated with pregnancy loss, miscarriage or stillbirth. But we do know that high fevers in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, can raise the risk of birth defects.

Avoid, avoid, avoid

The very best advice on offer is, do not contract COVID-19. Immune system changes brought about by pregnancy make women more vulnerable to respiratory viruses, among other things. The next thing to avoid is any tendency to ignore or downplay symptoms. An expectant mother who has been exposed to someone with the virus, or who shows any of the classic symptoms, should arrange for testing.

Ideally, mothers hospitalized for the purpose of giving birth are tested upon admission. But why wait until that late date? If there is any reason to suspect that the virus is having its way with an expectant mother, testing is much preferable to the misery of regret.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “COVID-19: a one-way ticket to a global childhood obesity crisis?,”, 11/05/20
Source: “Coronavirus and Pregnancy: What You Should Know,”, undated
Image by Jun Frogosa/CC BY 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — The Hazards of Reproduction

One of the many ways in which the pandemic affects children is by preventing them from having a chance to be born. There is great potential for harm in being pregnant and ill with coronavirus at the same time. One reason why this matters is because maternal fever can affect the fetus. COVID-19 also increases the likelihood that even babies who are successfully delivered might lose their mothers within their first days or weeks of life.

Not only the virus itself, but the mere threat of it is dangerous when patients are constrained from making in-person office visits. A large proportion of expectant mothers have been having their checkups via telemedicine, which is unsatisfactory in itself and increases the chance that asymptomatic women will not be diagnosed with the virus.

A Scientific American article mentioned some typical cases, like where a pregnant woman ill with the virus had to have a C-section to deliver her baby two months early. More than a month later this mother was still in the intensive care unit and had not yet held her child, and the doctors were thinking she would need a double lung transplant in order to continue living.

A quickly worsening situation

Since the Delta variant arrived on the scene, the danger to pregnant women and their babies has seen a horrifying increase. Lately, new cases in the United States involving pregnant women have increased to 1,000 per week. Of 22,000 pregnant women who have been hospitalized, 161 have died. Carolyn Barber wrote,

Simply put, pregnant people have been avoiding the vaccine, and the toll may be enormous… The road to this point is filled with misinformation but also with fears and concerns about the COVID vaccines’ impact on fertility and pregnancy, which many physicians find understandable, if mostly unsupported.

At the University of Birmingham’s hospital, researchers documented the cases of 39 unvaccinated pregnant women, where nine babies did not survive, and two of the women died. A Centers for Disease Control study of 400,000 pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19 indicated that their risk of severe illness and/or death was higher than that of non-pregnant people. It gets worse:

Likewise, a study of about 870,000 women found that, compared with those who did not give birth with COVID-19, those who did so had a nearly one-and-a-half-fold increase in preterm births, a sixfold increase in ICU admissions, a 14-fold increase in mechanical ventilation and a 15-fold increase in death.

The news is not all bad. A study was done of 1,200 women who received positive COVID-19 test results before vaccines were available, and around three-quarters of them escaped with either a mild case or no symptoms at all. And after mRNA vaccines became available, it was discovered that high levels of protective antibodies are passed on to fetuses.

Jeanne Sheffield, M.D., an expert in maternal-fetal medicine at Johns Hopkins, also wrote about the possibilities, which are not uniformly grim. She tells parents,

We can provide treatment for COVID-19 in pregnancy. Several of the medications currently in use are also being used for our pregnant women, and early studies have shown they can provide some benefit.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Pregnant and Unvaccinated: Delta’s Deadly Toll,”, 10/01/21
Source: “Coronavirus and Pregnancy: What You Should Know,”, undated
Image by Omer Ziv/CC BY-ND 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — Another Set of Specialized Victims

In terms of reproductive news, February of 2021 was a bad month. The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy published an article titled “Pregnancy tied to estimated 70% higher COVID-19 rate.” What does that mean exactly? Journalist Mary Van Beusekom reported that…

[…] population-based estimates of coronavirus infections in pregnancy are unreliable due to incomplete recording of pregnancy status or inclusion of only hospitalized patients.

Still, it appeared that in the state of Washington, pregnant women “were infected with COVID-19 at a 70% higher rate than others of similar ages,” and it was becoming more obvious that pregnancy combined with coronavirus is a recipe for severe illness and maternal mortality.

Another significant factor is that most of these expectant mothers were non-white. Since this group includes many women classified demographically as Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, a great many of them prefer to receive care in non-English languages. It is easy to empathize with the importance of that, in medical settings where stress is high and people are masked.

In spite of the difficulties with acquiring and collating data from many different sources, a University of Washington research team assembled numbers that pleased no one and spurred discussion of the importance of prioritizing vaccination in pregnant patients. Kristina Adams Waldorf, M.D., one of the study’s co-authors, told the press that pregnant women were being ignored when it came to the plans for vaccine prioritization. She said,

Many states are not even linking their COVID-19 vaccine allocation plans with the high-risk medical conditions listed by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] — which include pregnancy.

Why are pregnant women so likely to catch the virus? Nobody quite understood, but some contributing factors are “exposures from children in daycare, their role as a caregiver within an extended family, residence in larger households.” Also, lead author Erica Lokken, Ph.D., had a suspicion:

Higher infection rates in pregnant patients may be due to the overrepresentation of women in many professions and industries considered essential during the COVID-19 pandemic — including healthcare, education, service sectors…

Another journalist, Kellee Azar, also wrote about this trend of pregnant women with higher infection rates than others in their age group. Part of the problem is that they are likely to have additional medical issues like high blood pressure, diabetes, and, of course, weight gain — that do not mix well with COVID-19.

Obstetrics and gynecology professor Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf said that one out of 10 pregnant women suffering from the virus were being hospitalized. Aside from the possibility of maternal mortality, pre-term birth is another potential result.

This is bad news for already existing children, too, because many of them have mothers who are likely to become pregnant again, and when those mothers and new babies are ensnared in illness and hospitalization, it poses tremendous problems for whole families in terms of child care, finances, and even the prospect of children being orphaned.

All of this creates another set of knock-on or sequential problems stemming from the COVID infection. Children in families disrupted in these ways are likely to experience many of the conditions and difficulties that are known to exacerbate childhood obesity, thus supplying another group of prospective victims for the virus that has already demonstrated its affinity for body fat.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Pregnancy tied to estimated 70% higher COVID-19 rate,”, 02/17/21
Source: “Pregnant women should be considered high risk for COVID-19, study finds,”, 02/19/21
Image by Andrew Seaman/CC BY-ND 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — Fear Creeps Closer

Even before COVID-19 showed up, many overweight and obese patients had noticed that their doctors and the adjacent office staff showed a bit of an attitude. This atmosphere has kept people from making appointments because sometimes it seems better to put up with whatever physical problem is going on than to brave the scrutiny of judgmental professionals.

In the hospital environment, patients have encountered a disturbing lack of preparation for their needs. In an alarming article that Childhood Obesity News mentioned recently, author Virginia Sole-Smith quoted outspoken patient Amanda Martinez Beck:

People fall in the hospital all the time and they didn’t have a protocol for how to handle it with someone my size.

Sole-Smith herself wrote,

Because our culture views weight as mutable, it’s considered acceptable to expect fat people to change themselves to suit the system — but it’s supposed to be the other way around. Health care is supposed to meet patients where we are, not where we might be someday, maybe.

Childhood Obesity News has had a lot to say about the stigmatization of obesity. Fat-shaming has been called out and scolded by many psychologists and other therapists, and by the parents of affected children, and by adults who have been fat-shamed and became articulate enough to tell the world their side of the story. The subject has been covered so thoroughly, who would have suspected that it could become exponentially worse?

Degrees of apprehension

After years of hearing about how fat people are ruining it for everybody by breaking lawn chairs and taking up too much space in airplane seats, the coronavirus epidemic has provided a whole new and very attention-getting way to make overweight and obese people feel bad. If they catch the COVID — or so the story goes — it’s their own fault, and they should expect no better than to be left in the alley out back of the hospital. They should meekly accept their fate, while medical resources are used to save the virtuous skinny people, who deserve salvation. Unfortunately, as Sole-Smith reminds us, “Nobody can lose weight fast enough to make sure they don’t catch the virus at the grocery store today.”

It is one thing to hesitate about having symptoms looked at because medical settings have been the scene of muttered comments, eye-rolling, small, seemingly inadvertent humiliations, and other micro-aggressions. When they start talking about weight-based triage and denial of potentially life-saving treatment during a pandemic, that is another whole level of apprehension.

Health-care avoidance

Lately, many patients being tested for or treated for the virus have felt that medical personnel had negative feelings, and were dismissive of their particular needs. Aubrey Gordon, aka Your Fat Friend, says, “I am legitimately very afraid of the health care I would get.” To ask whether obese people delay in seeking medical attention for COVID-like symptoms is painful but necessary.

One problem is the not entirely forthright response to investigative attempts, about which Sole-Smith quotes Rebecca Puhl, Ph.D.:

This is a really important question but so hard to document… If a doctor chooses one patient over another for a ventilator, that probably won’t be written into the report. So there’s a layer of stigma here that may be present but is very hard to monitor or document in any way.

Plenty of misguided souls wander in the wilderness of “their own research,” which does have the advantage of at least being justifiable on some level of rationality. Many more suffer from plain old delusional notions. So there is enough confusion going on without adding coronavirus cases that would have been preventable, if not for the psychological barriers that people with long experience of being fat patients would prefer to avoid.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How Fatphobia Is Leading to Poor Care in the Pandemic,”, 01/10/21
Image by Xuan Che/CC BY 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — The Approach of Fear

A very substantial article by Virginia Sole-Smith, titled “How Fatphobia Is Leading to Poor Care in the Pandemic,” brings up a number of issues that are not sufficiently considered by the general public. Like everyone else, overweight and obese people are dealing with the ugly possibility of falling ill with coronavirus. They also have concerns that people whose weight is within normal limits do not have to worry about.

The rumblings of discontent have been gathering over time. Sole-Smith relates how in July of 2020, in the United Kingdom, the National Health Service put out the word that citizens should try to lose weight to avoid becoming virus victims.

When interviewed, Sarah Nutter, Ph.D., who specializes in weight stigma and body image, pointed to a 2007 study from the British health authorities, which found that “body weight is informed by over 100 different factors and over 300 connections between those factors.” Dr. Nutter said,

It’s not as simple as calories in, calories out, or how much you move and eat. But that’s the stereotype and the belief that we live by.

The writer consulted various other academics and experts, like social psychologist Jeffrey Hunger, Ph.D., who specializes in the health of stigmatized groups. A quotation from his thoughts is,

Nobody faults your adorable grandmother for getting Covid, but everybody faults a person at a higher body weight. It breaks on whether you are to blame or not for getting yourself into that high-risk category.

In various social media, mean-spirited people were starting to realize that there was another way to make obese people feel bad about themselves. In California, the health bureaucracy composed guidelines that suggested how doctors might take into consideration several factors, including weight, before allocating such resources as ventilators.

In other words, it became clear that a patient’s odds of living or dying might depend not only on their weight but on how the medical establishment reacted to their weight. As news articles began to paint a picture that frightened people with large bodies, awareness increasingly focused on the T-word, triage.

Sole-Smith in her very comprehensive article quotes an author familiar to readers of Childhood Obesity News, Aubrey Gordon, who wrote for many years under the pseudonym Your Fat Friend:

There has been an open debate about whether fat people are worth giving ventilators to, and I don’t think we think enough about the impact of hearing the worth of your life debated in public.

The publication of the California guidelines triggered activists from the obese and disabled communities to form the #NoBodyIsDisposable campaign, which sticks up for the idea that neither physical nor mental ability, nor weight, should be a factor when resources and services need to be prioritized. Spokesperson Brandie Sendziak says,

Comorbidities, especially those that have a disproportionate impact on people based on race, gender, or size, should never form the basis of medical rationing. These are not acceptable losses.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How Fatphobia Is Leading to Poor Care in the Pandemic,”, 01/10/21
Image by Stefan Rheone/CC BY 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — Risk on Every Side

The thing about childhood obesity is, most of the time (some say 80% of the time), overweight and obese kids graduate into being overweight and obese adults. The thing about adult obesity is, an awful lot of overweight and obese adults did not just mysteriously become that way after their 21st birthday. In other words, these are not two separate phenomena. The details may differ — while kids gorge on candy, grownups are more likely to go overboard with cheeseburgers. But pizza knows no age boundaries, nor do sugar-sweetened beverages.

And now, as it turns out, the coronavirus doesn’t care about chronological age, either. Sure, for a long time COVID fooled a large percentage of the population into believing that children are not affected. But as it turns out, tiny little babies can catch it. Now, we can see a photo of a single American toddler hooked up to more equipment than even exists in many hospitals around the world.

At this moment in history, it is urgent for people to realize that children are not magically immune. At the same time, since those under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated, it is suspected that they are the “reservoir” where the virus hides out waiting for the chance to infect others. Anybody who wants to look into it more deeply, see this Twitter thread by Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding for details and sources.

The grim twins

Obesity and COVID, in one of the most dangerous partnerships of all time, are equal-opportunity predators. They don’t care how old or how young a human is; all they see is a potential victim. Where COVID-19 is concerned, obesity is on the list of established risk factors. Almost a year ago, the World Health Organization announced its estimate that, globally, in the 5-to-19-year age group, an estimated 50 million girls and 74 million boys are obese. WHO says,

As governments continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to maintain momentum on childhood obesity — a pandemic already affecting millions of the world’s most vulnerable children.

The Centers for Disease Control reported on data gathered in 2019 on the characteristics and hospitalization rates of patients with confirmed coronavirus. In April of 2020, the CDC said that “48% of patients then hospitalized with COVID-19 had a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the “obese” range (compared with 42% of Americans as a whole).” They also cited a French study confirming that “Covid-19 patients with a BMI of 35 or higher were more likely to need a ventilator.” Additionally, reports from California “found that men with a BMI above 40 had a higher risk of dying from the disease.” Sole-Smith was careful to make a qualification:

It’s important to note that none of this research proves that a COVID-19 patient’s high body weight caused their hospitalization, need for a ventilator, or death; it only establishes a tentative correlating relationship.

An important thing to remember is that death is not the only possible result when either children or adults fall prey to the virus. There is “long COVID,” which now has an official title, “Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19,” and its own official code, U09.9 Post COVID-19 condition, unspecified.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood Obesity: Maintaining momentum during COVID-19,”, November 2020
Source: “How Fatphobia Is Leading to Poor Care in the Pandemic,”, 01/10/21
Source: “CDC Announces Approval of ICD-10 Code for Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19,” 07/20/21
Image by Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ/CC BY 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — The Grim Twins Double Down

The term “obesity epidemic” has been heard for at least 20 years. In a 2005 International Journal of Epidemiology article, Katherine M. Flegal examined this usage, noting that the dictionary definition of an epidemic implies both the high prevalence of a disease and its rapid increase.

Obesity does not quite fit the classic model of a contagious disease epidemic. But it has frequently been argued that we are inundated by intangible agents of contagion like the omnipresence of advertising for harmful, obesity-causing substances (like sugar-sweetened beverages), and the ubiquitous availability of worthless junk food. These factors infect the human consciousness in much the same way that living organisms invade the body.

Flegal references an authority named C. E. Rosenberg who wrote about epidemics as social and political phenomena with certain characteristics:

First, there is a reluctance to accept and acknowledge the epidemic, until admission of its presence is unavoidable… [A]n explanatory framework is created in which to understand it, which often expresses and legitimizes moral and social assumptions, reaffirming social values, and blaming victims.

In the third stage, a public response is created. In fact one of the defining characteristics of an epidemic is the pressure it generates for decisive and visible community response.

An important difference is that epidemics caused by tangible agents of contagion like bacteria and viruses tend to eventually end, while there is no indication that the obesity epidemic will ever come to a conclusion.

Doubling down

Now, for almost two years, Obie (a nickname for the obesity epidemic) has been hanging out with its new best friend, Covie (the coronavirus epidemic) as they deploy every trick in the book to supply one another with victims and generally exacerbate the already miserable situation. By the time the two delinquents met, the concept of a childhood obesity epidemic specifically had also been in general use for some time. A 2008 example from Dr. Pretlow can be found in the journal Pediatrics.

After COVID hit, it did not take long for the unholy alliance between Obie and Covie to become apparent. When Tiffany Haddish interviewed coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci last August, he said, “Obesity is absolutely a risk.” By then, it had become stunningly obvious that obesity and COVID-19 are in active and continuous collaboration. Dr. Fauci, incidentally, confirmed the thoughts of C. E. Rosenberg quoted above when he said:

The thing that we’re facing that is unfortunate is the divisiveness in our society is making it almost a political thing. Trying to do public health things is the enemy of opening the country, that’s nonsense. We should use the public health measures as a vehicle and as a pathway to safely reopening the country.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Commentary: The epidemic of obesity—what’s in a name?,”, 12/08/05
Source: “Overweight and Obesity in Childhood,”, August 2008
Source: “Tiffany Haddish interviews Dr. Fauci about COVID-19,”, 08/31/20
Images by Chiara Coetzee, annabella photo, Barry Thomas, and carterse/CC BY-SA 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

It seems as if everyone has something to say about the mutual aggravation society formed by obesity and the coronavirus. By the end of 2020, almost half of American adults (42%) were obese. Since 1975, worldwide obesity has tripled. Also worldwide, observers have noticed the association between obesity and the disturbingly fatal virus.

For Japan Times, for instance, journalist Tiffany May wrote,

Obesity has also emerged as a major indicator of the severity of coronavirus symptoms in patients with both diseases. A recent study from China that analyzed a group of 112 COVID-19 patients found that of the 17 patients who died, 15 were either overweight or obese.

Last month, there was the Centers for Disease Control report that mentioned how the biggest jumps in weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic are seen among “younger school-aged children and those who were already prone to obesity.” None of this is surprising to readers of Childhood Obesity News, but here goes: a recent International Journal of Obesity piece reiterated:

With 158,000,000 affected children, childhood obesity is a pandemic on its own. It is related to many comorbidities like hypertension, impaired glucose metabolism, and even cancer or depression; an earlier onset is often related to more severe sequelae. Moreover, in the context of COVID-19, obesity increases the likelihood of severe disease progression, even in children. With more than 500,000,000 children affected by the COVID-19-induced measures, even minor effects can cause a tremendous aggravation of the childhood obesity pandemic.

Again and again, health authorities point out how the two pandemics exacerbate each other’s effects. When researchers looked at average statistics about children over the previous 15 years before COVID arrived on the scene, and compared them with more recent numbers, they found “a substantial weight gain across all weight and age groups… Alarmingly, both the long-term and the short-term effects were most pronounced in the obese subgroup.”

As we have learned, many of the measures society takes to protect children from the virus can paradoxically make them more vulnerable and end up worsening the problem by causing even more obesity.

In a way, all this awareness of the link is a drawback, because resisters and deniers use the early evidence to sell the myth that only obese people get COVID. They imply that if the slackers would only live slim, healthy lives, this wouldn’t be a problem. (Some say the quiet part out loud: “So it’s kind of, you know, their own fault.”)

And if someone desperately wanted to lose weight in hopes of avoiding the virus, what are they supposed to do? Virginia Sole-Smith wrote,

Even if the science eventually shows a more concrete link between weight and Covid-19 complications, nobody can lose weight fast enough to make sure they don’t catch the virus at the grocery store today.

It’s not as if every obese person will experience a lightning bolt of revelation and say, “Thanks for the hot tip! Since you tell me I’m at greater risk of catching the virus, I’ll just snap my fingers and reverse a lifelong trend and drop 50 or 100 pounds.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Influencers may face fines as China tackles obesity and food waste,”, 12/25/20
Source: “Children And Teens Gained Weight At An Alarming Rate During The Pandemic, The CDC Say,”, 09/17/21
Source: “Age- and weight group-specific weight gain patterns in children and adolescents during the 15 years before and during the COVID-19 pandemic,”, 09/23/21
Source: “How Fatphobia Is Leading to Poor Care in the Pandemic,”, 01/10/21
Images by Sophie and Gael Varoquaux/CC BY 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — The World-Renowned Grim Twins

Obesity and coronavirus celebrate their convergence to form what some call colliding pandemics and others call a perfect storm of elements seemingly designed to further the careers of both Obie and Covie, the Grim Twins, who are unsurprisingly still around. Those two have got each other’s backs, and it was all predicted before the results of their alliance really started to manifest in the physical plane.

The partnership of the two plagues is nothing new, and no one should be the least bit surprised. For instance, a paper was submitted back in June of 2020 and published in April of 2021, whose title spelled it out — “Childhood obesity and SARS-CoV2: dangerous liaisons.”

The Background paragraph of that meta-study says,

These diseases, albeit extremely different, have a pandemic pattern of diffusion and have enormous direct and indirect effects both on health and lifestyle. Two authors independently extracted data using predefined data fields and rated study quality. Two main key words were considered, obesity and COVID-19, pointing a particular focus on pediatric patients.

They found what so many other researchers have also found — an increase in childhood obesity caused by less physical activity, more screen time, disturbed sleep patterns, and inferior diets. With COVID-19 added to the picture, the scientists also observed that social distancing and lockdowns ranging from suggestive to strict…

[…] could have even more problematic and enduring effects considering that obese children are more susceptible to psychiatric disorders.

When this work was being done, the “direct effects and significant links” between obesity and COVID-19 were not yet readily apparent, but a creeping weight increase was showing up in young adults, so it became increasingly easy to predict where the trend was heading. The Centers for Disease Control had published a paper stating that:

Mechanisms are likely to be multifaceted, particularly since obesity itself is the result of a complex interaction between genetic, hormonal and environmental factors. Obesity could have a significant impact on mechanical lung function… It is clearly more difficult to intubate or to perform imaging in patients with obesity. Moreover, as mentioned before, overweight results in a chronic state of inflammation which can impair the immune response.

The writing was on the wall, and actually had been for some time. Back in 2014, an article written by James Hamblin for The Atlantic included the sentence,

Over all, the pandemic of physical inactivity, as Hillman and colleagues put it in their Pediatrics journal article today, is “a serious threat to global health.”

That pandemic was just preparing the ground, in readiness for when COVID-19 would show up and the real fun could begin. Recently Caroline Chen wrote — and proved by titling her article “Why Opening Restaurants Is Exactly What the Coronavirus Wants Us to Do” —

People have a bad habit of anthropomorphizing the coronavirus: ascribing human-like intentions to it…

Sure, and some of the previous Childhood Obesity News posts are perfect examples of this anthropomorphization:

The Mutual Aid Pact Between Obesity and COVID-19
COVID-19 and Obesity Both Keep Bad Company
Hand in Hand, Obesity and COVID-19

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood obesity and SARS-CoV2: dangerous liaisons,”, 04/02/21
Source: “Exercise Is ADHD Medication,”, 09/29/14
Source: “Why Opening Restaurants Is Exactly What the Coronavirus Wants Us to Do,”, 02/06/21
Images by William Pearce, Mike Keeling, and Vorstius/CC BY 2.0

Coronavirus Chronicles — Two Mutually-Empowering Crises

The coronavirus epidemic and the obesity epidemic continue to assist one another with cooperation so perfect, if it were practiced by humans, both those epidemics would long ago have scuttled away with their tails between their legs. Instead, as we saw from the previous post, their numbers continue to go nowhere but up.

Let’s call them Covie and Obie for short — although in their private moments the two bosom buddies no doubt have much more adorable pet names for each other. What a partnership! They have so much in common, starting with the simple matter of credibility.

There are still plenty of folks who think childhood obesity is no big deal. “Kids are running around all the time, burning off calories. They’ll lose their baby fat. Why do schools waste money on fitness instead of the Three R’s?” Likewise, there are still scads of people who don’t believe that children catch, spread, or die from the virus. People who barely even acknowledge the existence of either Obie or Covie are hardly going to get all excited about the collusion of the two.

All kinds of ugly confrontations

For AP News, David Pitt reported,

The rise of the delta variant and beginning of the school year have dramatically increased the risks children face during the coronavirus pandemic… The group said the prevalence of pediatric COVID-19 has skyrocketed since the school year began, with 20% of all child cases since the beginning of the pandemic diagnosed between Aug. 13 and Sept. 16.

This alarming information comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and specifically from that organization’s Iowa chapter. A lawsuit is happening because the state’s governor signed a law prohibiting school boards from requiring COVID-prevention masks in schools. The governor and many of the state’s citizens believe that parents should decide on an individual basis.

Other parents are very unhappy, and so is a disability rights group called The Arc of Iowa. As of mid-September, with the epidemic in effect for not even two full years, 5.5 million American children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 — and that doesn’t even include the undeterminable number of undiagnosed cases. The state itself has chalked up more than 56,000 known cases in children since the beginning. (Only three Iowan children have died from it, as compared to, for instance, Texas, with 79 child deaths total.)


The governor and her backers claim that masks interfere with breathing. They say that nose and mouth coverings prevent children from developing language skills and social skills, and are harmful especially to children with anxiety issues. The other side says that kids with weakened immune systems, lung and heart conditions, Down’s syndrome, and other chronic problems go to school too, and should not be put at risk.

There are many reasons why parents want in-person school, and obesity is one of them. Nobody wants America’s youth sitting around all day watching TV and eating snacks. School imposes at least a moderate bit of energy-burning exercise. There is a case to be made for the idea that school with masks is better than no school, but some folks don’t see it that way.

Meanwhile, Obie and Covie remain the best of friends, wreaking havoc wherever they go. Until October 11, school districts can declare mask mandates in Iowa. After that, who knows?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Pediatricians group warns of COVID-19 spread among children,”, 09/30/21
Images by annabellaphoto and loic somb/CC BY-ND 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources