Coronavirus Chronicles — The Grim Twins Ride Again

People afflicted by PASC, or “long COVID,” almost unanimously report exercise intolerance and fatigue. Exercise intolerance sounds like being unable to run a marathon or lift weights, but there is more to it. People become so debilitated by the virus, a trip to the bathroom is a major expedition, so it is easy to see why a person would only want to face that ordeal once a day. To cut down on their output, they might stop eating and drinking. But hydration is vital for every bodily process, and so is good nutrition.

Even without the added problem of a terrible disease, it has gotten to where many experts agree that, in fighting obesity, diet is more important than exercise. Once again, COVID-19 acts as an accomplice to obesity, by making people so weak and pain-wracked, they can barely move; and by encouraging them to subsist on highly processed carbohydrates, rather than prepare vegetables or protein.

Childhood Obesity News has explored the links between obesity and inflammation, and between those two conditions and coronavirus. It appears that the role of inflammation has been underestimated. Technical writer Thomas Smith wrote,

Inflammatory diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. If Covid-19 worsens these conditions — or causes its own long-term inflammatory damage — the result could be millions of additional deaths from heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and the like, especially in already vulnerable populations.

Here is another oddity. Ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone,” is thought to originate in the stomach and small intestine. When there is too much of it, a person no longer “eats to live” but enters the realm of those who “live to eat.” Here is a capsule description of how ghrelin’s message gets around:

The pre-prandial surge of ghrelin may be induced largely by the expectation of food. The signal is discharged from the central nervous system and transmitted to stomach through the efferent fiber of vagus nerve…

Here is David Putrino, of New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, on the likelihood that COVID-19 interferes with the vagus nerve:

Dr. Putrino said inflammation from the virus might be disrupting the normal functioning of the vagus nerve — the body’s longest cranial nerve — which relays messages to the lungs, gut and heart.

Hunger, appetite, whatever it is called, definitely has a connection with obesity, and this is another angle from which the virus could jump in to lend a helping hand to the ambitions of its old friend, obesity.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Official Covid-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical,”, 07/09/20
Source: “Doctors Begin to Crack Covid’s Mysterious Long-Term Effects,”, 11/1/2020
Images by Lorenz Duremdes and Taymaz Valley

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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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