Coronavirus Chronicles — The Deadly Duo

This blog has previously mentioned the dangerous affinity between obesity and the novel coronavirus, and sadly, there is more to say about that fraught subject. We mentioned Dr. Rami Bailony, who warns that obesity is “a leading risk factor in mortality and morbidity from Covid-19.” He cites a New York University study which found that if a person is going to be hospitalized because of the virus, the most likely co-morbidity is not heart or kidney disease, diabetes, or even smoking, but obesity.

Strangely, it took a while for the American health care apparatus to identify the obese as high-risk individuals. According to Dr. Bailony,

Insurance providers, including Medicare, continue to deny coverage for obesity treatment, and obesity counseling continues to be one of lowest-reimbursed codes in medicine… It’s time for our society and our health care system to devote the same amount of resources toward medical obesity treatment as it does toward diabetes and heart disease.

By 2030, which is only 10 short years away, it is predicted that nearly half of the U.S. population will be obese, and, if the disease is still around then, this is good news for COVID-19 and bad news for the rest of us. Actually, Dr. Bailony uses the word “terrifying.” With or without the disease as a complicating factor, what would really help is for the health care system, including the insurance industry, to begin treating obesity like a chronic disease rather than a lifestyle choice.

But not just the U.S. In China and France, to give just two examples, obese patients have a much more difficult course of illness and are much more likely to not survive. Dr. Bailony also mentions that at first (and rather inexplicably), the World Health Organization “left obesity off its list of preexisting conditions likely to make patients more vulnerable.” He says,

Fighting obesity means waging a multifaceted war on a number of fronts — not just diet and lifestyle, but also with regard to environmental, psychological, medical, genetic, and microbiomic factors.

To continue ignoring the mounting evidence of obesity’s deadly toll — before, during, and after the Covid-19 outbreak — will be to continue ignoring the most costly pandemic in human history.

And what about the children?

This is, after all, Childhood Obesity News, so let’s consult a pediatrician. Dr. Mason Gomberg of White Plains Hospital Physician Associates is very concerned with “how continued social distancing and canceled activities can lead to an increase in childhood weight gain and, with it, a host of related diseases.”

As we have seen, parents are going bananas. Depending on their degree of in-place sheltering and desperation, they are adapting either to unemployment or remote work; trying to teach kids at home, which includes obtaining the needful equipment to do that; struggling to keep up with all the virus news; and hoping to prevent the family’s weight from doubling.

How can that be achieved? Glad you asked! Please check out Dr. Gomberg on the subject of “What Parents Can Do to Help Prevent COVID-19 From Affecting Children’s Weight.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Dangerous Link Between Coronavirus and Obesity,”, 05/28/20
Source: “COVID-19 and Childhood Obesity: What Parents Can Do According to a Local Pediatrician,”, 08/18/20
Image by Cristina/CC BY-SA 2.0

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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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