Coronavirus Chronicles — Collusion in Low Places

The exigencies of living in a pandemic put all kinds of strain on people, and one thing people under stress are bound to do is — EAT!

New York Times reporter Emma Goldberg notes that about one out of every 10 Americans has some kind of eating disorder, and the pandemic has certainly not made things easier. People sheltering in place either are lucky enough to have food, which sits there staring them in the face all day calling out “Eat me!” in a seductive voice, or they are food insecure, which brings its own set of problems. Goldberg says,

In March and April, the National Eating Disorders Association, or NEDA, saw a 78 percent increase in people messaging its help line compared with the same period last year. Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit organization that provides mental health support by text, saw a 75 percent increase in conversations about eating disorders in the two months since March 16…

Although it is possible that men have just as many issues, most of these support-seeking texters have been women. Goldberg spoke with psychiatrist Dr. Jessica Gold, who points out that when people lose control over the external circumstances of life, they tend to fall back on an aspect they can control, namely, when and how much to eat. For parents, she suggests that they encourage talk about the restrictions and fears posed by the pandemic.

Corporate Accountability is a watchdog group whose attitude toward Big Food is negative at the best of times. But the pandemic has really spotlighted the damage done by the industry because it fosters obesity, and obesity puts people in worse danger from the virus. The accusation is,

The surge of diet-related disease behind one in five deaths annually, is putting hundreds of millions of people at high risk of severe illness from COVID19.

Corporate Accountability’s Deputy Campaigns Director, John Stewart, piles on the blame. It is bad enough that the industry spends millions to advertise unwholesome products that indirectly contribute to the numbers of coronavirus patients. Their penchant for sneaky interference in political matters has the same effect. They fund junk science, engage in dishonest “greenwashing” public relations campaigns to fool the consumers, and lobby (read: bribe) politicians.

Stewart says that Big Food and Big Soda…

[…] are quite diligently trying to convince governments across the world to position their products as ‘essential services’ during the pandemic — the same junk food products that have fueled a global epidemic of diet-related diseases for decades, contributing to unprecedented rates of diabetes and obesity globally.

But wait, that is still not the totality of their crimes. As Childhood Obesity News has also mentioned, the beverage industry, which does so much to cause obesity, has also massively misappropriated the water that people need to fight COVID-19. Hand-washing is one of the main rules to prevent the spread of the disease, and on the individual level, adequate interior hydration is one of the main rules of health. Without clean water, neither defense is available to the victims of the corporate thieves.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Disordered Eating in a Disordered Time,”, 06/05/20
Source: “Report: Group funded by Coke, Big Food looms large in U.S. dietary guidelines,”, 04/21/20
Source: “Demanding answers from Big Soda,”, 05/15/12
Source: “Corporate campaigning during the COVID-19 pandemic, part 2,”, 04/22/20
Image by Hugo Karpinski/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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