Coronavirus Chronicles — No Exemption for Minors

Obesity and the disease that took over the world are both bad for kids, and Childhood Obesity News has explored many of the ways in which COVID-19 and obesity work together to achieve a synergistic result that promotes success for both of them.

One of the most fantastic aspects of the current moment is the lingering belief that children and young people can neither contract nor spread COVID-19. Based on emotions and preconceptions, families make decisions, governments make policies, and kids sicken and even die because the grownups didn’t do their homework.

If you are a grownup, the sad fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is that you just might catch the disease from the children and/or adolescents of your own household. As journalist Zachary Mack phrased it,

[R]ecent studies indicate that not only are children and young adults loaded with the virus while often asymptomatic, they are also responsible for passing the disease along to more at-risk segments of the population, including older relatives.

Here from the CDC itself is a report, a collaboration of at least 20 credentialed authors, on an appalling instance of contagion during July and August. Relatives from five different households gathered for a three-week reunion. The 13-year-old “index patient” picked up the virus in June. She did not feel sick or have any symptoms but was nevertheless tested four days after the exposure, presumably to be “cleared” for the upcoming family get-together.

Having received a negative test result, she traveled to the destination and stayed with more than a dozen other relatives in one large house. In residence for varying lengths of time, they acted “old normal” — in other words, no masks or distancing. Eleven people ended up with COVID-19. Six other relatives slept elsewhere and visited the main house a couple of times, remaining outside to socialize at the recommended distance. Even though they were not masked either, they escaped unscathed.

Just to reinforce an already uncomfortable concept, Mary Van Beusekom wrote in early December about a study published by the journal Pediatrics. Researchers looked at children in two states, finding that they were “just as likely as adults to become infected with COVID-19 within their households.”

In one-fifth of the subjects’ homes, the virus was spread by kids. People are easily taken off guard because the young often have no detectable symptoms. This is not to say they have no symptoms, but children seem to be always catching something, and coughing or wiping their noses. We are used to it.

There is a troubling passage, concerning the number of child cases that show up in the official national statistics. It seems that the ratio of cases between children and adults has been vastly misunderstood. The authors say,

In contrast to the 8.3% of cases reported among children in the United States, 35% of household cases in our study population were in children, most of whom were identified because we tested all household contacts regardless of symptoms.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “This Is Who’s Most Likely to Give You Coronavirus, CDC Says,”, 10/07/20
Source: “Adolescent with COVID-19 as the Source of an Outbreak at a 3-Week Family Gathering,”, 10/09/20
Source: “Study: Kids, adults equally susceptible to in-home COVID-19 spread,”, 12/03/20
Image by Dennis Jarvis/CC BY-SA 2.0

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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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