Coronavirus Chronicles — Just a Few More Ethnic Implications

A previous post mentioned “When Pandemics Collide: The Impact of COVID-19 on Childhood Obesity.” These authors are among many who make the same point: obesity promotes COVID, and COVID promotes obesity. They mention the disturbing fact that living in pandemic circumstances has led to an increase in domestic violence, including child abuse. Children with obesity or another pre-existing condition are particularly apt to contract COVID-19, and more likely to experience a serious case.

They mention the studies attributing obesity risk to toxic stress exposure suffered in childhood. They also say,

COVID-19 stressors disproportionally affect vulnerable populations already experiencing toxic stress from poverty, racism and structural inequality… Lack of, or decreased access, to treatments for chronic physical and/or mental illness conditions can exacerbate negative outcomes… Out of school time has been associated with weight gain especially for Hispanics, African Americans, and children with overweight…

Another voice, that of Laura Washington from Chicago Sun-Times, speaks of not only the virus, but of “another plague that affects us most — our everlasting battle with obesity.” She admits to having hoped the pandemic would lead people to the awareness that, to put it in stark terms, “the fat is killing us.” She mentions the high percentages of obesity among the Black and Hispanic communities and quotes journalist Brett Chase:

Having obesity increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection.

For kids, as Pam Belluck of reported, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children is an additional threat, especially for young Black and Latino people, who together account for close to 70% of MIS-C cases. Then, there are all the specific details, both medical and societal, that complicate the picture. For instance, consider the pulse oximeter, which clips onto the patient’s finger to measure blood oxygen levels. In the COVID ward, that is a pretty important detail. In February, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the device “may be less accurate in people with dark skin pigmentation.”

In “Let’s talk about racism and health,” Margaret Flowers revisited a topic that Childhood Obesity News has discussed. Doctors and their attendant personnel are often not at their best when dealing with obese patients. Now, add race to that equation, and there is a situation. She writes,

One study found that when physicians were given the same description of patients that only varied by race, they made different diagnoses. Doctors were more likely to view black patients as ‘violent, suspicious or dangerous.’ Another study documented that racial bias leads to less treatment of pain for black versus white patients.

Another complication in the Black community is the (in some cases well-deserved) mistrust of certain medical recommendations. Although mostly for different reasons, a large number of white people strenuously also object to being vaccinated against COVID.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “When Pandemics Collide: The Impact of COVID-19 on Childhood Obesity,”, 01/01/21
Source: “Pandemic makes obvious another great health threat to African Americans: obesity,”, 02/28/21
Source: “COVID-Linked Syndrome in Children Is Growing and Cases Are More Severe,”, 02/17/21
Source: “FDA Warns That Pulse Oximeters Are Less Accurate on Darker Skin,”, 02/22/21
Source: “Let’s talk about racism and health,”, 09/26/20
Image by Mike Finn/CC BY 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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