Coronavirus Chronicles — Are Excuses Being Made?

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on a study of COVID-19 patients between the ages of 12 and 17, and guess what? About two-thirds of those patients were obese.

Of all underlying conditions, obesity was found to be the most common. Also, children with underlying conditions — including obesity — are more likely to wind up in the Intensive Care Unit. As if that were not enough, obese kids tend to stay hospitalized for about twice as long as those who are not obese.

Just to put the icing on the cake, “hospitalization rates were 10 times higher for unvaccinated adolescents.” Is there some reason why obese teenagers are less likely to be vaccinated than others? This whole relationship between obesity and COVID is just a tangled can of worms, and if somebody doesn’t get a handle on it, children and teens with weight issues will continue to be prime victims.

Not exactly news

Readers of Childhood Obesity News have absorbed plenty of information on the close relationship between the two epidemics. For, journalist Jack Butler emphasized once more the futility of hiding our heads in the sand and ignoring this alignment of interests between two heavy-duty health villains:

Over the course of last year, two related facts that many had already reasonably intuited became undeniable: Obesity is a coronavirus comorbidity, making people likelier to get it and to suffer seriously from it. And at the same time, lockdowns which increased unhealthy habits overall, contributed to America’s already-extant obesity epidemic, particularly for children.

It is unfortunate that “lockdown” has become the shortcut term representing the whole spectrum of measures designed to prevent the spread of the virus. Compared to what goes on in other parts of the world, to call almost anything that has happened in the USA a “lockdown” is an exercise in hyperbole. But we know what is meant. The closing of schools, daycare centers, parks, gyms, and community centers has taken a toll, in terms of calories unexpunged by exercise. Even without armed enforcers patrolling the streets, American kids have tended to stay indoors more in the past couple of years, sitting on their duffs and spending way too much time engaged with electronic devices.

Words count

Butler also brought up some troublesome details about the official language employed to describe the link between COVID and obesity, and its strangely passive tone at times, which seems to imply that obesity is some kind of curse visited upon us, like a hurricane, rather than a thing that can be predicted, prevented, or maybe even eliminated. It’s as if we are totally at the mercy of not only the virus, but of obesity itself. The writer hints that the terminology sometimes slides into a sort of “political correctness” that has run amok.

He suggests that certain restrictions against physical activity might be considered a futile strategy “that made many people less healthy and more vulnerable to the disease against which the measures were supposedly implemented.” Another of his thoughts is,

We’ll also need to abandon the notion that obesity is just something that happens to people and that they are helpless to do anything about it.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “CDC cites obesity as culprit for hospitalizing children with COVID-19,”, 01/04/22
Source: “CDC Confirms What We Already Knew: Obesity Makes Coronavirus Worse,”, 01/04/22
Image by Phil Roeder/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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