Coronavirus and the Grave New World

The title of this post has a double meaning: The COVID-19 crisis is creating the need for thousands of literal graves, and the situation is grave in the sense of having serious and harmful significance. Many types of humans are threatened in ways that are particularly harmful, for one reason or another, to specific groups.

For the young, this shapes their childhood in the same way that the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. impacted the childhoods of older generations. It’s a 9/11, a Pearl Harbor, a Vietnam War, a Cuban missile crisis.

The attention of Childhood Obesity News, of course, is focused on a subgroup of children — those who either are obese, or who are at risk. In the previous post, we mentioned the factors contributing to friction in households where everybody has to be there all the time. People are getting cabin fever. They’re going stir crazy. This quotation capsulizes the problem:

Studies show that abusers are more likely to murder their partners and others in the wake of personal crises, including lost jobs or major financial setbacks. Mounting data suggests that domestic abuse is acting like an opportunistic infection, flourishing in the conditions created by the pandemic.

As New York Times writer Amanda Taub points out, isolation is one of the traditional weapons of the domestic abuser. In a way, the requirement to stay at home is a gift to some of the worst people alive. It gives them an excuse to practice their other favorite aggressions: “[…] constant surveillance; strict, detailed rules for behavior; and restrictions on access to such basic necessities as food, clothing and sanitary facilities.” This is very bad news for the parent — usually, but not always a woman — who is frantic to protect the children from harm.

Adults and children have numerous reasons to be stressed right now, and as we have established, stress is a major cause of disadvantageous eating habits at any age. The upcoming publication in the journal Obesity, titled “COVID-19 Related School Closings and Risk of Weight Gain Among Children” points out a factor we have also mentioned before. Counter-intuitively, and contrary to popular belief, kids are unlikely to become more fit in the summer.

While much has been said about the less-that-perfect food and the inadequate physical activity requirements (or even opportunities) in schools, the data show that children do not experience unhealthy weight gain chiefly during the school year. No, it is during the summer months, during the break from school, when the pounds tend to pile on. The authors note,

This and subsequent work has found that weight gain over the summer school recess is particularly apparent for Hispanic and African American youth, and children already experiencing overweight. Importantly, the data show that the weight gained during the summer months is maintained during the school year and accrues summer to summer.

This topic will continue to be discussed here, and we add a note for professionals:

As the official journal of The Obesity Society and the premier source of information for obesity research and discovery from basic to population science, Obesity seeks submission of scientific data on the following topics:

• risks of COVID-19 infection and the risks of COVID-19 related hospitalization and death for individuals with obesity, as well as mechanisms underlying this association;
• response to therapy, based on obesity status, in patients undergoing investigational treatment and prevention protocols;
• psychological impact of the pandemic on those with obesity; and
• other aspects of the relationship between obesity and COVID-19 that would be of interest to our readers.

Please submit your work here:

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “A New Covid-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide,”, 04/06/20
Source: “COVID‐19 Related School Closings and Risk of Weight Gain Among Children,”, 03/30/20
Image by Andrew Gustar/(CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

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.

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