Coronavirus Chronicles — Three Factors and a Virus

Despite a national death toll of almost 120,000, and somewhere north of 10,000 new cases since yesterday, large segments of America currently seem willing to pretend that COVID-19 does not exist. Today’s post gathers up a few more instances of the multiple intersections between obesity, poverty, and race.

Those three factors also interact with COVID-19, to their detriment. A quotation from Commentary senior writer Christine Rosen includes both a rebuke and a warning:

There’s a great deal we don’t know about how COVID kills, but we do know a lot about obesity and its associated health risks. Educating the public about those risks isn’t racist, or fat-phobic, or any other intersectional indictment that activists can conjure. Like washing one’s hands and wearing a mask during a pandemic, it’s simply good public health policy.

Why does the public need to be educated? Here is a small example, from a recent article giving advice on how to (psychologically, emotionally) survive the whole family staying home together. The writer suggests a nostalgic return to the days of playing soccer in front yard. Or hitting baseballs.

Say what?

That particular writer may possess a deep sociological consciousness. No informational prose can indulge every possible caveat, exception, or equivocation that might occur to a writer. Still, it has to be sadly admitted that quite a few Americans would not pause for a second to question the assumption that everybody lives in a house with a front yard. Millions of us do not live in houses. Many times, there is no grass out front, but cement slabs or some unfriendly surface.

Even among the prosperous (relatively) few who own or rent homes with front lawns, how many of them are far enough from the street to be safe? How many can afford to be cavalier about the possibility of a baseball shattering a neighbor’s window; or of a soccer ball rolling into the street followed by a child… followed by an inattentive driver, and an ambulance? That also brings up the difficulty of maintaining equipment. Soccer balls get run over. Sometimes they get stolen. There are Americans whose day-to-day reality does not include buying sports equipment.


Of course, all potentially helpful suggestions need to be set on the table. Goodness knows, Childhood Obesity News has offered hundreds of them to our visitors. But parts of the public harbor misconceptions about other parts of the public, and that is not helpful. Those of us who are fortunate, prosperous, and privileged — and even those who are marginally getting by — must not be left unaware of how many Americans are operating at bare survival level, or of the obstacles they often face.

The government, and various helping agencies, need to bear in mind that no matter how excellent the suggestions are, some of us don’t have the geographical opportunity of front-yard soccer. Some grownups can’t even manage to get to a store, because they don’t have anyone to leave their children with.

Limitations are one of the subjects covered by professor of sociology Sabrina Springs, who mentions such historical injustices as “the legacy of redlining that pushed black people into poor, densely populated communities.”

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Where Do Obesity and Racism Really Collide?,”, 05/27/20
Source: “It’s Not Obesity, It’s Slavery,”, 05/25/20
Image by muffinn/CC BY 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.

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