Coronavirus Chronicles — Literal and Figurative Orphans

Currently, so many stresses work together to create a fraught environment for children, who are already thrown off balance by differences in schooling and, hopefully, restrictions on mingling. Childhood Obesity News has been examining these numerous factors that contribute to creating an obesogenic environment.

“A mom of 4 who died of Covid days after her husband makes one final wish: ‘Make sure my kids get vaccinated.” Nobody wants to see such a headline, yet we do, all too frequently. This family attended church camp for a week and contracted COVID-19. The dad died, and two weeks later, so did the mom. Journalist Andrea Salcedo is not reticent about the message:

The now-orphaned children of the Rodriguez family join the millions tragically affected by the sometimes deadly illness.
The case of the Rodriguez family echoes that of other unvaccinated patients who have begged their doctors for vaccine doses before being intubated.

It’s bad enough that some of the dying and desperately ill patients are children, many of whom will not survive long enough to ever have their BMI measured or to hear other kids taunt them with “Fatty fatty two by four, couldn’t fit through the bathroom door…” They will never have to worry about being picked for an athletic team or fitting into a prom dress. And that is tragic enough. The whole other side to it is awful too, the loss of adults. A Twitter user known as @southernhavok writes:

My childhood buddy is very likely the fittest person I know… I don’t think I have ever seen him eat sugar, and he is a vegetarian who rides his bike about 100 miles a week. He has been on a ventilator for the past month, and it is not looking good.

Many Americans say that healthy people don’t catch the virus, or that vaccination is some kind of poison. They rest their hopes on “herd immunity,” or say the whole COVID thing is a hoax, and are particularly likely to reject what they call anecdotal evidence. The previous paragraph is not part of a scientific paper published by a reputable journal, and so is vulnerable to being rejected as “not science.”

Still, it is likely that this health-conscious old friend exists. It is likely that his history has been recorded and his specs are being kept track of, and all his information will find its way into someone’s scientific study. Through social media, we simply receive some data sooner, in a less formal context.

Another brand of tragedy

But the main point, at least in this post, is that a lot of these adults who are dying in droves used to occupy important places in the lives of children. The grownups are parents, depended on by children for their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The grownups are relatives who will now never be called upon to babysit or to pick out holiday gifts for siblings, nieces, nephews, or grandchildren.

They are other custodial adults, like foster parents. They are preschool child care experts. They are teachers, coaches, pastors, friendly neighbors, social workers, and on and on. Every adult who interacts with children in any way is in danger of leaving behind some heartbroken kids who will miss out on the massive amounts of good that those adults would have done for them.

They are nurses who are no longer available to staff the pediatric wards, even if physical beds are available; and who will never work in schools, even if there is enough budget to hire them. Some are even doctors, who might have saved a child’s life, further along the road, or inspired a child to go to medical school and figure out the ultimate solution to childhood obesity.

The absence of all these adults leaves glaring, gaping holes in the fabric of society.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “A mom of 4 who died of covid days after her husband makes one final wish: ‘Make sure my kids get vaccinated’,”, 08/18/21
Source: @southernhavok on Twitter, 05/04/21
Image by Jernej Furman/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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