Coronavirus Chronicles — The Virus, the Stats, and the Young

For a while, COVID-19 got away with disguising itself as the type of predator that mainly seemed to prefer older humans. But looking back at how the virus has been treating America’s people, it is obvious that the big, major trend over the past few months has been toward younger victims.

For instance, in the first week of December, the state of Florida was posting up well over 9,000 new cases a day, and in each county, the median age of the new patients was in their 40s. In one county, the new-case median age was 27. These were not the tottering, decrepit, ancient folk we had been led to visualize as the virus’s prime victims.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study concerning the difference between expected and actual deaths. This is a rough way of approximating how many COVID-19 fatalities occurred, without relying on totals that may have been late, inaccurate, intentionally misreported, or in some other way lacking. The authors wrote,

Excess mortality reflects the full burden of the pandemic that may go uncaptured due to uncoded COVID-19 and other pandemic-related deaths. Accordingly, we examined all-cause excess mortality and COVID-19–related mortality during the early pandemic period among adults aged 25 to 44 years.

The research team was interested in the statistics concerning the mid-adult age group, over a designated five-month period. They took the 2019 total, before the virus was even heard of, and subtracted it from the corresponding 2020 number. Between the beginning of March and the end of July, the target age demographic lost 11,899 more members than would have been expected, going by the previous year.

This led to a suspicion that the virus was probably to blame in more than half those fatalities. The report explained:

Only 38% of all-cause excess deaths in adults aged 25 to 44 years recorded during the pandemic were attributed directly to COVID-19. Although the remaining excess deaths are unexplained, inadequate testing in this otherwise healthy demographic likely contributed. These results suggest that COVID-19–related mortality may have been underdetected in this population.

This is not an easy problem to fix. About two months ago, the Ohio Department of Health announced that “as many as 4,000 COVID-19 deaths may have been underreported through the state’s reporting system.” Last year’s months of October, November and December were a mess, and the numbers need to be reconciled somehow. The experts may never be able to discover the exact numbers for many areas in difficult time periods.

Less than a month ago, the results of the biennial National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were made known. The information is collected via phone surveys and is considered to be very accurate. In this case, the 10,000 respondents drew a grim picture. In America, obesity among children and teens has never been higher — close to 19%, which pretty much translates to almost one in five.

The percentages tallied by each age group show that the rate becomes progressively worse as the children get older. You hardly ever hear anyone speak of “outgrowing their baby fat” anymore. The children are instead growing into their adult fat at an increasingly alarming rate. As the numbers escalate, other factors hold steady. More boys than girls are obese, and more Black and Hispanic kids than white.

Illnesses are not always gotten over, and morbidity can last a long time. Meanwhile nurses and even doctors, unable to find another outlet for their frustration, take to Twitter to scold the unheeding public for its indifference, and assure them COVID-19 is real.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Florida’s daily average for COVID-19 cases climbs to 9,300 to start December,” News4jax.com, 12/08/20
Source: “All-Cause Excess Mortality and COVID-19–Related Mortality Among US Adults Aged 25-44 Years, March-July 2020,” JAMANetwork.com, 12/16/20
Source: “Ohio to add approximately 4,000 COVID-19 deaths to death total,” Ohio.gov, 02/10/21
Source: “Childhood obesity rates hit all-time high, survey finds,” BeckersHospitalReview.com, 01/25/21
Image by Mario A.P./CC BY-SA 2.0

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The Book

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:

Presentations

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.

Food & Health Resources