Coronavirus Chronicles: The Grim Twins Persist

Let’s examine further the multitude of ways in which the Grim Twins, obesity and coronavirus, conspire with each other to make so many situations worse. Every day, more experts recognize these significant elements:

Lifestyle changes including stay-at-home orders, physical distancing, closed schools, changes in daycare, stress in the home, financial complications, and increased screen time with decreased extracurricular activities have led to an increase in pediatric obesity.

We have pointed out how diet and exercise, the two main components of a fitness regime that prevents and reduces obesity, are affected. For anyone who takes seriously the rules that help to prevent the virus from spreading, opportunities for physical activity are severely curtailed. Several factors combine to interfere with the nutritional needs of humans who already were not doing too well. Loss of the ability to eat properly and exercise sufficiently are the two most glaringly obvious problems.

In regard to a study that included close to two million subjects, Dr. Liji Thomas, in an article titled “Obesity and COVID-19: Cause or effect?” elucidated the conundrum:

Among the population groups at high risk for COVID-19, those with obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes are known to be prone to more severe disease. This favors the public health policy of physical mobility restriction to protect these groups against the infection. However, as a result of these measures, the incidence of obesity may increase due to inadequate physical activity, strengthening of depressive tendencies, and lack of social interactions that support group exercise.

This could actually increase the number of those at higher risk of severe COVID-19, not including the other risks associated with obesity like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Neil Chanchlani, of the United Kingdom’s University of Exeter, also goes into detail about the consequences:

Restrictions and cancellations of child welfare visits to at-risk families can reduce visits of birth parents and children in foster care, leading to harms.

Forced isolation and economic uncertainty may lead to increases in family violence, contributing to mental and physical trauma. School cancellations may heighten food insecurity for children who depend on meal programs and increase vulnerability with the loss of school as a safe place.

The key words in that passage, that should jump right out at us, are safe, risk, welfare, trauma, harms, vulnerability, and violence. Emotional turmoil is a well-known “obesity villain” in both children and parents. There have been, and will be, separations and divorces. Sequestration and deprivation have brought domestic violence victims to emergency rooms. This is not something we like to think about or talk about, but the conditions that COVID-19 necessitates could drive people to terrible acts that will affect the rest of their lives.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Pediatric obesity in relation to COVID-19,”, 3/21/2021
Source: “Obesity and COVID-19: Cause or effect?,”, 06/25/20
Source: “Indirect adverse effects of COVID-19 on children & youth’s mental & physical health,”, 06/25/20
Images by Phillip Sidek and bavatuesdays/CC BY 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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