Coronavirus Chronicles — The Blues and the Blahs

Currently, many households do not have two nickels to rub together. In enumerating the many damages inflicted by COVID-19, which she calls “both a pathological ailment and a sociological illness,” child psychiatrist Dr. Afifa Adiba mentions the part that affects children viscerally:

These same low-income families may also experience limited access to nutritious food because of high costs and other factors; food insecurity is linked to behavioral problems, lower educational performance, delay in developmental milestones, childhood obesity and frequent hospitalizations.

The pandemic is a severely traumatizing situation that touches every American in one way or another. Dr. Adiba writes,

There is a saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” When the whole village is in danger, who cares for the children?

As responsible, caring adults, we instinctively want to protect children from the full horror of how precarious everything is. But what can be said to a 16-year-old girl whose father is out of work and can’t pay the rent? Dr. Adiba quotes the patient she is having a video visit with”

I am really scared. Where would we go when they ask us to leave? How will we find a place to live? We don’t even have enough money to buy food. Will I be homeless?

As recent posts show, depression and boredom are the archenemies of weight management. An adult can experience severe depression like that described by a friend of the blog, “All I wished for and what I prayed for, every day, was to care about something. Anything. Growing root vegetables. The opera, the square root of pi. Let me just care enough to file the calluses on my feet. Anything.”

Children can feel the same way, without the ability to articulate it. Their closest approach might be to whine, “I’m bored.” Some parents bend over backwards to alleviate the condition, while others will have none of that nonsense. Much as we hate to admit it, there are parents who say, “I’ll give you something to be bored about” and put a child in a closet.

The inability to care stems from depression. If a person could care, that would be fertile ground for the eventual birth of motivation. Childhood Obesity News has extensively discussed motivation, which is required before a person can decide to make a stand, and try to escape obesity. Motivation is at one end of a spectrum, and the absence of caring is at the other end. The inability to care is also a feature of boredom.

Through the ages, parents have accused their children of not caring about various matters. They issue threats like “I’ll make you care,” but in reality it is impossible to make a human of any age care about anything, ever. Behavior can be controlled. Compliance can be coerced. But caring? It simply can’t be installed in another person like a battery into a cell phone, not even by force.

That has been true in what we are tempted to call “normal” times. Now imagine all this rampant depression, boredom, and stress cooped up in a small space with other people — equally bored, stressed, and depressed — and everyone has to stay there at the risk of catching a potentially deadly illness or of being arrested on the street.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Life in a pandemic: How will we protect our children?,”, 04/14/20
Image by eHealth International

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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.
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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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