Coronavirus Chronicles — More Ethnic Implications

Quick recap: Obesity and coronavirus are mutually beneficial. They create and select victims for each other. In the U.S., some ethnic and minority populations have higher obesity rates, especially among children. They also have higher COVID rates. When it comes to children, their own death or chronic illness are not the only sources of worry. When adults die, they leave behind progeny more vulnerable to the life challenges that tend to promote obesity. It’s like a big tangled ball of twine with no obvious place to begin the unraveling.

Here is what the numerous authors say (with lavish amounts of documentation) in an article titled “When Pandemics Collide: The Impact of COVID-19 on Childhood Obesity“:

[A]s we see children with obesity are also at a higher risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19, we have been reminded of the urgency of addressing obesity as a disease. Parental stress is associated with childhood obesity in some studies, most recently in non-Hispanic Black families… Disturbances in the social environment during infancy and early childhood appear to play a critical role in weight gain and obesity.

About a year ago, researchers from Leicester and Nottingham Universities released a meta-study, combining the information gleaned in 50 previous studies carried out in the U.K. and mostly in the U.S. They found that, compared to the number of white people who contract COVID 19, Asian people are one-and-a-half times as likely to catch it, while Black people are twice as likely.

However, this does not appear to be due to genetic factors, according to the lead researcher, Dr. Manish Pareek. Rather it seems attributable to the fact that members of ethnic minorities are more apt to be employed in “frontline” jobs that expose them to infected people. There is also more of a tendency for many people to share the same quarters, with little opportunity for a sick individual to self-isolate.

On and off the rez

In a recent post, we discussed indigenous populations in various states who have been disproportionately affected by the virus. In Montana, Native Americans are dying from the disease at a rate 11 times higher than white residents. They are only 7% of the state’s population but have experienced nearly 40% of the virus deaths. Some of the reasons are the lack of running water, multigenerational living arrangements, and pre-existing conditions like diabetes. Another reason, suggests journalist Miranda Green, is that many of the state’s seven reservations border on areas where defiant white residents refuse to wear masks or take other anti-pandemic safety measures.

Nationwide, COVID-19 has killed Native Americans at almost twice the rate of white people. In January, Jacque Gray of North Dakota’s Center for Rural Health spoke to a CNN reporter Kristen Rogers about the lack of mental health services on the reservations. She mentioned a tribe that has experienced multiple suicides among people in the 20- to 40-year age group. Sadly, this leaves behind some very disadvantaged children and overburdened grandparents. To do something so final and so devastating to loved ones, a person would have to be in a severe mental health crisis.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “When Pandemics Collide: The Impact of COVID-19 on Childhood Obesity,”, 01/01/21
Source: “Black people ‘twice as likely to catch coronavirus’,”, 11/12/20
Source: “Montana tribes hard-hit by COVID-19 brace for Republican takeover,”, 01/09/21
Source: “Mental health is one of the biggest pandemic issues we’ll face in 2021,”, 01/04/21
Image by peachsmack/CC BY-SA 2.0

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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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