Coronavirus Chronicles — The Changing Landscape

Over the past year, according to a study published by Pediatrics, it appears that childhood obesity increased by 2%. That may not sound very impressive, but it is alarming. To put it another way: Last time a count was made, 13.7% of kids were obese, and the most recent count is 15.4%. To spin the thought in yet another direction, the title of a piece by Anuradha Varanasi says it all — “Obesity Epidemic Accounts For More Than $170 Billion In Surplus Medical Costs Per Year In The United States: Study.”

In this context, the surplus has nothing to do with old Army canteens. The annual cost of medical care is $170 billion more than it would have been if no one were obese. And yet…

[P]eople with severe obesity are the most impacted as their excess health care costs go over $3000 a year. Seven out of ten adults and three out of ten children in the United States currently have overweight or obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is no coincidence that obesity and COVID-19 have once again created a cozy partnership for the furtherance of both their interests.

The truth hurts

In the current childhood obesity landscape, COVID-19 is by far the biggest player. It makes kids miserable, which makes them fat. Or, if they are already fat, it makes them more miserable. Among the young, in the area of long-range effects, two different things appear to be going on — PASC and MIS-C. But with the state of COVID-19 science in its infancy, who knows? It could be possible that they are both actually the same condition. Stranger things have happened.

Few psychological experiences are more painful than when a fortress of certainty crumbles into dust. Large parts of the world have finally acknowledged that children can both suffer from and transmit the virus. After a certain point, more and more authorities began to say things like this:

For many patients, including young ones who never required hospitalization, Covid-19 has a devastating second act. Many are dealing with symptoms weeks or months after they were expected to recover, often with puzzling new complications that can affect the entire body — severe fatigue, cognitive issues and memory lapses, digestive problems, erratic heart rates, headaches, dizziness, fluctuating blood pressure, even hair loss.

Just like adults, children can not only catch the virus, they can experience “long covid.” Journalist Megan E. Doherty quoted Sean O’Leary, of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, who said, “It does seem to be a real phenomenon that it may be happening in kids.” This was just over six months ago, and Doherty went on to say,

[W]hile the CDC recently reported that as many as 20 percent of those aged 18 to 34 who have Covid-19 experience lasting symptoms, there’s no similar data available on children and younger teens.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “‘Striking’ Increase in Childhood Obesity During Pandemic,”, 03/30/21
Source: “The United States: Study,”, 03/31/21
Source: “Doctors Begin to Crack Covid’s Mysterious Long-Term Effects,”, 11/1/2020
Source: “When Children’s Covid-19 Symptoms Won’t Go Away,”, 09/20/20
Image by Tom Page/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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