Coronavirus Chronicles — Food Insecurity and Other Demons

Part of the battle against childhood obesity involves assuring that children are able to access nutritious food, in hope that they will be less inclined to go for processed foods that are empty of useful nutrients. It is also well-established that actual hunger can set the scene for a lifelong risk of developing eating disorders. Yet, governmental actions and inactions often seem designed to guarantee that people-feeding programs are constantly on the chopping block. That tendency has become even more dangerous since so many schools are closed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Since COVID-19 struck, and as Childhood Obesity News has mentioned frequently, one of the most prominent features of the virus is its increased risk factor among obese humans. So with seemingly conscious and malignant intent, the virus does all it can to create more obesity, keeping people indoors and sedentary and often deprived of fresh whole food, if not actually infected. Obesity returns the favor by providing plenty of fat cells and other physical conditions favorable to the virus.

But do we listen?

The bidirectional association between these two miscreants is more apparent every day, and more difficult to overlook. Nevertheless, Congress has been arguing for years about the nutrition standards for school meals which are, wrote journalist Evie Blad, “necessary to combat concerns like childhood obesity.” Recently, a blow was struck on behalf of hungry children when a federal court ruled that the current administration had violated the Administrative Procedures Act and must leave the school meals nutrition standards alone.

In September, the House of Representatives really stepped up and voted to extend the school meal program waivers through the end of the current school year. Not only can schools continue to offer free meals, but…

The waivers also permit schools to continue allowing parents to collect multiple days worth of grab-and-go meals at curbside pick-up locations, so distance learners can safely and conveniently access meals for the week.

On the international scene, however, America is not performing like a champion. In the spring, the U.S. government announced that it would stop funding a World Health Organization program that addresses both forms of malnutrition, the kind that causes stunted growth and the kind that paradoxically leads to ever-rising levels of child obesity.

Jane E. Brody, Personal Health columnist for The New York Times, wrote,

Given how bad youthful nutrition was before Covid-19, I fear that the pandemic could further undermine it, especially for children from low-income families, who may be missing meals at schools that are closed or whose parents are now not getting paid at all.

In its seemingly conscious effort to create as much havoc as possible, the virus complicated the U. S. government’s process of completing the latest edition of its Dietary Guidelines. Even though the compilation process for the Guidelines has ostensibly been going on for five years, the pandemic managed to affect it and cause “disruptions to the advisory committee’s work.” Many organizations petitioned to have the submissions deadline extended, but the government turned down that request and ended up with a document that many interested parties will be grumbling about until the next one comes around.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “School Meals: Court Strikes Down Trump Rollback of Nutrition Standards,”, 04/14/20
Source: “Free School Meals Extended Through SY 2020-21,”, 10/09/20
Source: “Suffer the Children! Trump’s decision to halt WHO funding will hurt the most vulnerable in developing countries,”, 04/15/20
Source: “Using Shelter-in-Place Time to Foster Better Family Food Habits,”, 04/06/20
Images by Stewart Black/CC BY 2.0 and Pascal/Public Domain

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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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