Sunday, April 11, 2021

A fat chance of dying with Covid

Lockdowns Worsen the Health Crisis | American Institute of Economic Research - Kiley Holliday & Jenin Younes: 

March 27, 2021 - "A recent global study found that obesity is a 'driving factor in COVID-19 deaths,' and that Covid-19 death rates are an astonishing ten times higher in countries where most adults are overweight.  Although advanced age is the strongest indicator of a severe outcome from a coronavirus infection, 'being overweight comes a close second,' the report determined.  The CEO of the World Obesity Federation went so far as to blame the 'failure to address the root causes of obesity over many decades ... for hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.'  While the study makes evident the degree to which poor underlying health is a driving force in coronavirus deaths, we have known almost since the beginning that being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of a severe outcome.

"Given this information, the Anthony Faucis and Eric Feigl-Dings of the world should focus on alerting people to the dangers of being overweight and obese, and expending significant efforts to encourage exercise and healthy diet.  Instead, they have spent the past twelve months urging people to 'stay home, save lives' and to wear two masks, if not three or four, a measure not shown to have mitigated coronavirus deaths at all.

"In a similar vein, governors around the country have ordered gyms closed, along with countless other businesses.  In New York, gyms have been open since this past summer, but patrons must wear a mask at all times ... despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) advised against wearing a mask while exercising, pointing to research demonstrating that wearing them even during mild to moderate physical activity can 'lead to significant negative cardiovascular and pulmonary effects in both healthy people and those with underlying respiratory diseases'.... Likewise, especially at the beginning of the crisis, governors around the nation closed playgrounds, national parks, and hiking trails, another policy choice that simply deprived people of the opportunity to engage in healthy outdoor activities.... 

"The exhortations of the 'stay home' crowd, as well as the implementation of measures such as gym and park closures have had the expected impact, which is that 42 percent of adults in the United States reported undesired weight gain during the past year, with an average of twenty-nine pounds.  Millennials as a group fared the absolute worst, with 48 percent reporting unwanted weight gain, at an average of forty-one pounds.  Suffice it to say, a significant portion of adults who in March of 2020 were not at substantial risk of a severe outcome from coronavirus now can be categorized as in an elevated risk group.

"The cause of this national belt-loosening is not merely staying home and moving around less, but anxiety and depression caused by social isolation, both of which have been demonstrated to cause weight gain and obesity.  Society has now organized itself around the principle of depriving people of meaningful social contact with family, friends, and coworkers for the better part of a year.  One need not have a degree in psychology to recognize that such an approach is bound to aggravate the obesity crisis, as indeed it has. In fact, our newly confirmed Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy has written an entire book on health effects of loneliness, arguing that it is associated with increased risk of heart disease, dementia, obesity, and sleep disorders.

"Yet despite these circumstances, publications such as the New York Times have been running grossly irresponsible pieces with headlines such as Should You Worry About Your Kid’s Pandemic Weight Gain?  (the answer of the author, Virginia Sole-Smith is, generally speaking, ‘no’).... Sole-Smith ascribes the rising incidence of childhood obesity to the pandemic itself, rather than the decision to shutter classrooms for many months. She contends that because childhood dieting can lead to adult eating disorders, parents should avoid treating their children’s weight gain as a 'problem to be solved'.... 

"A more recent Times article, by Sandra E. Garcia, dodged the issue of underlying health, and instead argued that people whose body mass index (BMI) qualified them for early vaccination should take advantage of that status.... Apparently, Garcia’s ideological commitment to the narrative of identity politics precludes any admission that being overweight, and particularly obese, is a significant predictor of a severe outcome from a coronavirus infection, and that many people can take steps to lose weight and thereby become healthier and even remove themselves from at-risk categories.  Getting vaccinated will not solve the larger problem, as it can only protect one from the coronavirus and does not cure the various comorbidities resulting from poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle....  

"We suspect that one day, the quarantining of entire societies that was carried out in response to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to vast swaths of the population becoming unhealthier overall and ironically more susceptible to severe outcomes from the virus, will be seen as the 21st century version of bloodletting.  As the epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff has observed, public health is not just about one disease, but all health outcomes.  Apparently, in 2020, the authorities forgot this obvious truth."

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