About the novel coronavirus, one of the earliest misconceptions to gain traction was that children are neither in danger, nor dangerous. The public was told that kids are unlikely to catch COVID-19, and even less likely to pass it around.
At a certain point it became clear that children do catch it, and not only that, but obese children are at higher risk of catching it. And, as usual, any kind of adversity that affects children takes on an extra dimension when the children affected belong to ethnic minorities, or are living in situations of economic stress. This is true of both obesity and COVID-19.
The obesity numbers alone are daunting. The Centers for Disease Control published data from the years 2017 to 2019, and here are some of the findings. This is what kids in these communities are growing up seeing around them and accepting as normal:
Non-Hispanic Black adults had the highest prevalence of self-reported obesity (39.8%), followed by Hispanic adults (33.8%), and non-Hispanic White adults (29.9%).
6 states had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among non-Hispanic White adults.
15 states had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among Hispanic adults.
34 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) had an obesity prevalence of 35 percent or higher among non-Hispanic Black adults.
At the end of last year, Dr. Mary T. Bassett gave a TED talk on “How Does Racism Affect Your Health?” She speaks often on the topics of vulnerable communities and health inequities that stem from geography, income, race, and occupation. She says,
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit underserved populations and communities of color particularly hard, exacerbating longstanding health disparities in the U.S.
The renowned Dr. Anthony Fauci has spoken with the press in great detail about these matters.
An extensive study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is described by Catherine Pearson, in her HuffPo.com article, as exposing “stark racial and socioeconomic disparities” and “striking differences” in the effects of COVID-19 on kids of different ethnicities. The subjects were 1,000 humans, age 22 at the oldest who were…
[…] brought to a drive-through COVID-19 testing site in the spring with relatively mild symptoms. Overall, roughly 20% of the children tested positive. But just about 7% of white children tested positive, whereas 30% of Black children and more than 45% of Latinx children did. The median age of kids who tested positive was 11 years.
The author emphasizes that this is only, figuratively speaking, a snapshot. All that is known about these children and youth comes from a brief span of their lives. The most important part of the story might be what is going on with them in 10 years, which of course we cannot know. It is also a snapshot in space, specifically, Washington, D.C., which should not be extrapolated upon to make implications about any other place.
Pearson quotes study researcher Dr. Monika Goyal, who says, “Chipping away at racial and socioeconomic disparities is a massive, ‘multifactorial’ endeavor….” There’s that word again! Everything is super-complicated and intertwined.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19,” CDC.gov, undated
Source: “Mary T. Bassett featured in The Forum’s Coronavirus Pandemic Series,” Harvard.edu, 05/01/20
Source: “The First Data On Kids, COVID-19 And Race Is Here — And It’s Not Good,” HuffPost.com, 08/05/20
Image by Joey Zanotti/CC BY 2.0