Coronavirus Chronicles — Ethnic Implications

The recent topic here has been how Latino and other ethnic communities are “targeted,” and disproportionately affected, by McDonald’s and its fellow fast-food corporations. Why is that so crucial at this particular time? Because COVID-19 also disproportionately targets these exact populations, and adding obesity to the equation is a recipe for disaster.

Of course, quick-service restaurants are not the only problem. Like many others, journalist Catarina Moura adds that the nationwide rise in childhood obesity is partly attributable to the virus,

[…] which has resulted in an increase in food insecurity — or the inability to afford healthy foods… The pandemic also disrupted the food supply chain and dramatically changed what was available in stores. Finally, loss of jobs meant loss of income, forcing parents to change their shopping habits and increasingly rely on non-perishable foods… Structural racism also played a role.

Dr. Sabrina Strings discussed the contemporary link between obesity and the pandemic, a co-dependency that she believes scientists are unable to sufficiently explain. She also dissects the racial origins of fatphobia, referencing the “cultural narrative that black people’s weight is a harbinger of disease and death.” These capsulized but suggestive phrases convey the gist:

Even before Covid-19, black Americans had higher rates of multiple chronic illnesses and a lower life expectancy than white Americans, regardless of weight… People’s bodies have been labeled congenitally diseased and undeserving of access to lifesaving treatments… I learned about guidelines suggesting that doctors may use existing health conditions, including obesity, to deny or limit eligibility to lifesaving coronavirus treatments…

Dr. Strings suggests that, adding insult to injury, people with low-paying jobs, who have no choice but to work, are being held responsible for their own vulnerability and blamed for exposing themselves to contagion.

Diabetes and more

Diabetes, a condition that often accompanies obesity, has always been a problematic result of the fast-food habit, especially among the Latino and Black populations. Of course, this is not limited to either to those groups or to the USA. A headline from yesterday reads, “Most Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia linked to diabetes and hypertension, says health ministry.”

The Centers for Disease Control issued a report stating that in America, between February 12 and July 31 of last year, people under the age of 21 accounted for 390,000 COVID-19 cases, including 121 deaths. According to the NPR,

They also found a staggering racial disparity. Of the children who died, 78% were children of color: 45% were Hispanic, 29% were Black and 4% were non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native.

Currently, the virus struts around and yells, “Hold my beer, and I’ll show you what comorbidity is all about!” The longer COVID-19 runs rampant, the more it goes after younger and younger victims, who of course are enthusiastic customers of quick-service restaurants. It is all one big, convoluted, terrifying mess.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Childhood Obesity Drops In New Jersey; Pandemic Behind U.S. Spike,”, 10/22/21
Source: “It’s Not Obesity, It’s Slavery,”, 05/25/20
Source: “Most Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia linked to diabetes and hypertension, says health ministry,”, 11/14/21
Source: “The Majority Of Children Who Die From COVID-19 Are Children Of Color,”, 09/16/20
Image by Gwydion M. Williams/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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