Coronavirus Chronicles — More About Knock-On Effects

What happens when the cue ball connects with the other balls? They go all over the place, in unpredictable directions, and some even fall into holes. The rest are distributed randomly, waiting for the stick of fate to send them off to the next event. In the analogy, COVID-19 is the initial blow that creates chaos and uncertainty for everybody. This continues the discussion of how children all over the world have been deprived of their custodial adults and introduced to chaos.

For the Miami Herald, Katie Camero wrote about a paper published by The Lancet:

Before the pandemic stripped the world of millions of people, there were about 140 million orphaned children globally. Now, an additional 1.5 million kids have lost their parents, grandparents or other caregivers… Every 12 seconds a child under the age of 18 loses their caregiver to COVID-19.

In April 2021, India alone experienced about an 8.5-fold jump in the number of newly orphaned children (43,139 kids) compared to the month prior (5,091).

Mexico, with an estimated 141,000 COVID orphans, and Brazil, with around 130,000, lead the way. India is only third, with a total of about 119,000, and then comes the United States, with an estimated 113,700 children deprived of their primary caregivers by the virus. Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton tweeted that one out of every 500 American kids has lost a parent or caregiver to the disease. Not surprisingly, Black and other minority families have been hit the hardest.

Bear in mind, that the Lancet report was published three months ago, based on data collected even earlier. Plus, according to Dr. Juliette Unwin, co-lead author of the study, the researchers’ estimates were low because the team’s tracking ability was unable to encompass all the possible demographic, epidemiological, and healthcare factors. She also notes,

And as data has shown throughout the pandemic, more men have died from the disease than women in nearly every country. Because of this, up to five times more kids have lost their fathers than their mothers.

In August, it was announced that almost 120,000 American children had lost the adults in charge of taking care of them. Since the pandemic began, there was already a lot of family separation, with the main money-earner, often the father, living in the garage or some corner of the workplace to avoid the possibility of carrying contagion into the home. Healthcare workers were and still are particularly careful to make sure their very presence does not spread the virus. With so many men dying, many of them fathers, more women are shouldering the burden of single parenthood, trying to support themselves, along with one or more children.

A hard row to hoe

With one or both parents victims of the plague, who is taking care of bereaved children now? Distraught, overwhelmed aunts, uncles, and friends. Social workers with impossibly heavy caseloads. Foster parents. A whole lot of grandparents, who thought they were out of the child-rearing field, have had to revise their dreams and change their lives drastically. Some are giving up their hard-earned retirement years. Worse yet, others are still working, in addition to being responsible for a child or children.

Surviving adults have their own grief to cope with, as well as dealing with the devastating emotional toll that strikes children when parents are suddenly gone. In addition, the newly responsible grownups are supposed to make sure these kids adhere to healthful diets and get the appropriate amount of exercise to prevent them from becoming obese children and then obese adults facing the lifetime of misery that state often implies.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “US is No. 4 in the world with most orphaned children by COVID deaths, study finds,”, 07/21/21
Source: “Nearly 120,000 children in the US have already lost a primary caregiver due to COVID,”, 07/20/21
Image by Patsmith photography/CC BY-ND 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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