Coronavirus Chronicles — Obesity, Long COVID, and a Mystery

So, we have just been going on and on about the collusion between COVID and obesity, and honestly, it never ends. There really needs to be more awareness about the fact that children can and do get “long-haul COVID” (aka post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection, or PASC), a condition ideally suited to set them up for lifelong battles against weight.

Additionally, there is an extensive amount of discussion about whether PASC is basically the same as MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome. The whole thing is a mess. Let’s back up to about a year ago, and follow along with some selected news stories.

Last November, Ashley Zlatopolsky published “Children Are Covid-19 Long-Haulers, Too.” She wrote,

According to the Mayo Clinic, in children with MIS-C, organs and tissues such as the heart, lungs, digestive system, and brain can become severely inflamed. [M]any questions remain unanswered, including whether the cause is in fact MIS-C or if they’re in the same mysterious boat as adult Covid “long-haulers.”

Are two different things involved really, or are they just different names for the same problem? Either way, when a child experiences these symptoms for months on end, obesity is in the cards, because being that sick inevitably means dietary laxity and a serious absence of healthy exercise.

It is possible that some are rendered more vulnerable by “ongoing low-level inflammation or autoimmune conditions,” but others with no such problems seem to go ahead and get long-haul COVID anyway, maybe because of an unsuitably exaggerated immune response. At any rate, several weeks after the child has apparently recovered from the virus, the unanticipated trouble begins.

Dr. Nick Hysmith, of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, has named conditions from prolonged fever to heart dysfunction, that can lead to a stay in the ICU.

Other possible symptoms reported elsewhere include but are not limited to headache, joint pain, muscle pain and weakness, fatigue, off-kilter reflexes, blurred vision, conjunctivitis, strange tastes in the mouth, intractable nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, hypotension, palpitations, mucocutaneous lesions, insomnia, altered mental status; and other respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, and neurologic problems.

Word from overseas

At the end of 2020, news came out about a German study that examined 100 adults who had ostensibly recovered from COVID. About one-fifth of them emerged from the acute stage with cardiac problems, including scarring of the heart itself. Patients reported feeling empty, scooped out, unable to function or to perceive any light at the end of the tunnel. Conversely, a subgroup who had not been vaccinated before suffering from the virus were vaccinated afterward, and experienced some relief from long-haul symptoms.

In March, a multi-author study published in Nature Medicine spoke of “increasing reports of persistent and prolonged effects after acute COVID-19, including sequelae or aftereffects in the pulmonary, hematologic, cardiovascular, and neuropsychiatric realms.”

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Children Are Covid-19 Long-Haulers, Too,” Medium.com, 11/11/20
Source: “The Plague Year,” NewYorker.com, 12/28/20
Source: “Post-acute COVID-19 syndrome,” Nature.com, 03/22/21
Image by quapan/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:

Presentations

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.

Food & Health Resources