Coronavirus Chronicles — Partners in Crime

In all the flurry that attends a national crisis, it is easy to overlook an event like the issuance of the 9th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Report. The new batch of guidelines is expected to be good through 2025. That is, at any rate, the date of the next planned edition. The document offers guidelines that are blameless but maybe futile, as we will see.

Familiarly known as the DGA, this publication comes from the United States Department of Agriculture, an agency with a lot of clout. The USDA decides, for instance, what foods the taxpayers will buy to be served in the nation’s schools and other institutions.

An estimated five million American children are now obese, and obesity prevention needs to start immediately, before birth, if possible. Yet, here is a detail that some find odd. In this iteration, the guidelines for the first time include recommendations for children younger than two years. So, what’s up with that? Plenty of two-year-olds already have a significant head start on becoming obese.

And the official policy hasn’t given it a thought? But that is about to change. One item of advice is,

[A]void foods and beverages with added sugars during the first 2 years of life.

Yes!!! That may not sound like a revolutionary slogan, but it is amazing that the corporate overlords did not quash it. Katie Marks-Cogan, M.D., notes that…

[…] high rates of obesity are not only public health concerns, but they also drive diet-related chronic diseases, such as “cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.”

Does COVID-19 count as a chronic disease? The conditions named there tend to be chronic for years or decades, and then become acute. But the virus is a contrarian. It starts as an acute disease and then, in many cases, becomes chronic. A chronically ill person can grow careless and unmotivated about maintaining a healthy weight, and then can possibly graduate to obesity. Once again, the two plagues work hand in hand. They are a pair of corrupt businesses that survive by perpetually referring customers to each other.

A worrisome suggestion

Dr. Marks-Cogan also recommends that parents start as early as four months to feed children eggs, peanuts, and other potential allergens. This is said to prevent severe food allergies from developing. The study and treatment of allergies is an entire medical specialty, and it seems like carrying out informal tests is a project that could be complicated and/or expensive for parents to manage.

As if that were not enough, along comes a pandemic that turns everything upside down. When the hospital emergency room is full of people waiting to find out if they have caught the virus, who wants to risk a trying food experiment that could send a child into anaphylactic shock?

Food insecurity

You don’t want to feed the baby the stuff in the jars with the additives. But what if there is no other kind of baby food at the food bank, or in your local store? Any dietary guide takes for granted that untampered-with fresh food products are best for babies. To follow through on that idea is one of those “easier said than done” propositions. What if you don’t have a food processor to make your own pure baby food, or even a blender?

What if you can’t get to a store for either fresh produce or a nice electric kitchen device? Sure, big companies are standing by, waiting to ship customers anything they want. But what if you don’t have credit or a bank account? What if you can’t afford the stuff you need to be a good parent in this situation? Your child is at risk of becoming unhealthy, allergic, and obese. Once again, COVID-19 aids and abets obesity, knowing that one day, all those obese people will be perfect hosts for it to colonize.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “What Parents Should Know About the New USDA Dietary Guidelines Report,”, 10/17/20
Images by Kandukuru Nagarjun and Michael Coghlan/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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