Coronavirus Chronicles — Risk on Every Side

The thing about childhood obesity is, most of the time (some say 80% of the time), overweight and obese kids graduate into being overweight and obese adults. The thing about adult obesity is, an awful lot of overweight and obese adults did not just mysteriously become that way after their 21st birthday. In other words, these are not two separate phenomena. The details may differ — while kids gorge on candy, grownups are more likely to go overboard with cheeseburgers. But pizza knows no age boundaries, nor do sugar-sweetened beverages.

And now, as it turns out, the coronavirus doesn’t care about chronological age, either. Sure, for a long time COVID fooled a large percentage of the population into believing that children are not affected. But as it turns out, tiny little babies can catch it. Now, we can see a photo of a single American toddler hooked up to more equipment than even exists in many hospitals around the world.

At this moment in history, it is urgent for people to realize that children are not magically immune. At the same time, since those under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated, it is suspected that they are the “reservoir” where the virus hides out waiting for the chance to infect others. Anybody who wants to look into it more deeply, see this Twitter thread by Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding for details and sources.

The grim twins

Obesity and COVID, in one of the most dangerous partnerships of all time, are equal-opportunity predators. They don’t care how old or how young a human is; all they see is a potential victim. Where COVID-19 is concerned, obesity is on the list of established risk factors. Almost a year ago, the World Health Organization announced its estimate that, globally, in the 5-to-19-year age group, an estimated 50 million girls and 74 million boys are obese. WHO says,

As governments continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to maintain momentum on childhood obesity — a pandemic already affecting millions of the world’s most vulnerable children.

The Centers for Disease Control reported on data gathered in 2019 on the characteristics and hospitalization rates of patients with confirmed coronavirus. In April of 2020, the CDC said that “48% of patients then hospitalized with COVID-19 had a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the “obese” range (compared with 42% of Americans as a whole).” They also cited a French study confirming that “Covid-19 patients with a BMI of 35 or higher were more likely to need a ventilator.” Additionally, reports from California “found that men with a BMI above 40 had a higher risk of dying from the disease.” Sole-Smith was careful to make a qualification:

It’s important to note that none of this research proves that a COVID-19 patient’s high body weight caused their hospitalization, need for a ventilator, or death; it only establishes a tentative correlating relationship.

An important thing to remember is that death is not the only possible result when either children or adults fall prey to the virus. There is “long COVID,” which now has an official title, “Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19,” and its own official code, U09.9 Post COVID-19 condition, unspecified.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood Obesity: Maintaining momentum during COVID-19,”, November 2020
Source: “How Fatphobia Is Leading to Poor Care in the Pandemic,”, 01/10/21
Source: “CDC Announces Approval of ICD-10 Code for Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19,” 07/20/21
Image by Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ/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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