Coronavirus Chronicles — Problems Not Readily Visible

Because of the pandemic disease itself and the inexorable reach of its influence and restrictions, people are a mess. We have depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, panic, agoraphobia, substance misuse, eating disorders, and PTSD.

In far too many lives, economic stress is a constant. Uncertainty takes a heavy toll, especially for people who are obliged to provide for others. Someone might be very confident about their own ability to “tough it out” during a bad patch, but when there are a partner and a child or five to be responsible for and worry about, the whole game changes.

People actively experiencing COVID-19 or recovering from it are, as we learned, susceptible to mental health disorders. And so, it turns out, are parents. The American Psychological Association recently issued a report on the mental and physical health of more than 3,000 parents whose under-18 children still live at home.

Nobody said it would be easy

Parents face two distinct sets of problems, their own and other people’s. Three-quarters of the adult subjects said they would have liked more emotional reinforcement than they got during 2020. No doubt, the same can be said of children. They too have felt deprived of emotional support. The hugely painful irony here is that the people who theoretically care about each other the most, are the very ones who cause the angst.

At any age, the people who are the most willing to help are sometimes the least able. And the ones who potentially are the most able to help, are not willing. Little kids, ideally, are able to brighten their parents’ lives, but too many children are asked to shoulder adult emotional burdens and compensate for what is missing in the adults’ relationship.

Where is obesity in this?

Everywhere. As we have seen, COVID-19 and the avoidance of it, and eating disorders, and mental health glitches, all exacerbate each other. Senior reporter Catherine Pearson writes in HuffPost,

55% of dads and 47% of moms say they’ve gained weight since the pandemic began, with an average of about 45 pounds for fathers and 27 pounds for mothers. Furthermore, just under half of dads in the survey said they were drinking more alcohol to cope with the pandemic, while about 30% of mothers said the same.

Many parents, needless to say, are not in the best frame of mind for putting their children’s chubby tummies at the top of the priority list. One of the oldest rules in the book is, “Pick your battles.” When parents are stressed about making sure the kids do their lessons and don’t bash each other’s brains in, snack policing might be the last thing on their minds. Remote learning is nobody’s idea of fun, as proven by the emotionally drained state of many parents who have to cope with it. Pearson writes,

Roughly half of mothers whose children are still learning at home reported their mental health has worsened since the pandemic began, while 30% of fathers whose children are still learning at home said the same.

Whether in the home or outside, a parent might feel the need to put a good face on it and pretend to love how the plague has given us the opportunity to spend so much time with the family. To keep up that kind of a facade is psychologically exhausting.

This era, the study authors say, will leave behind “lasting physical and psychological effects,” and no one yet has any idea how far from the end of it we are.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “New Report Shows Just How Much American Parents Are Flailing Right Now,”, 03/15/21
Image by waferboard/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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