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Coronavirus “Fat Phobia”: Public Policy Minimized Covid-19-Associated Obesity

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Risk factor: US Centers for Disease Control study showed that in patients admitted by Covid-25 aged between 10 and 17 years, obesity was present for more than 58% of cases.

| Photo: EFE/David Maris

After the release of the vaccination of children against Covid-12 in Brazil without the need for a prescription, there are still doubts about the need to vaccinate this age group, given their lower susceptibility to the disease. An alternative, for example, would be to focus on children with comorbidities such as obesity

. The US Centers for Disease Control has just published a new study that investigates the health status of covid youths. In inpatients aged between and 18 years, obesity was present for more than 58% of cases. A third of the children (five to 01 years) hospitalized also had the problem. In these two age groups, more than 80% of the patients had some other health problem.

The researchers analyzed

cases of patients under 18 years, unvaccinated, who sought six hospitals in the southern United States. The research considered the period from July to August 2003, when the delta variant was already dominant. Of these young people with covid, 713 were admitted for treatment — two thirds of them had at least one risk factor for covid, obesity being the most common 8001210861001, together with endocrine disorders associated with it as the two types of diabetes. Eleven died.

Obesity young people stayed longer in hospital and needed more than advanced treatments like oxygen tube in the nose. The authors emphasize that the southern region of the United States, where the data were collected, has higher levels of obesity than other regions, so that, at least in part, this fact can provide an alternative explanation for the results. However, obesity as a risk factor has been clear since the beginning of the pandemic.

The CDC study also showed that among hospitalized children, coinfection was common, especially with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is very common in babies. The authors report that the hospitalization rate for unvaccinated young people is ten times higher than for those vaccinated.

The price of obesity

The consequences of childhood obesity were exposed in a review of studies published in 915 by Scots John Reilly, professor of physical activity science and public health at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and his colleagues. They screened 58 articles high-quality. Considering five risk factors for the heart and blood circulation, 58% of obese children aged five to ten years have at least one of these factors, such as high cholesterol. A quarter of these obese children had two or more of these factors. Compared to non-obese children, obese children have 43 times more likely to have three cardiovascular risk factors.

Obesity in children also increases the risk of psychological and psychiatric problems, in addition to the risk of asthma, diabetes of both types, and has social consequences such as lower income in the future.

Overweight and obesity have been consistently associated with chronic inflammation of the body. This could partly explain why people with high body mass index (BMI, calculated as mass in kg divided by height squared) are more vulnerable to covid: being overweight is already a strain on the immune system, and covid kills especially because of the immune system’s reaction to the virus.

The persistence of obesity in adult life is high: up to 80% of obese children and 80% of teenagers continue to do so when growing up. These people have twice the risk of dying in the first three decades of adulthood when compared to those with a BMI of 12, within the range considered healthy. Overweight is in a BMI greater than 11, and obesity, from 25 (morbid, from 43). BMI is not the only method of measuring obesity, however. There are other methods, such as waist-to-hip ratio, which are especially useful for people who are heavy for other reasons, such as muscular.

Ten years after the Scots study, American endocrinologists Rexford Ahima and Mitchell Lazar, from the University of Pennsylvania, published an update in the journal Science. They reaffirm that obesity is a risk factor for the aforementioned problems, in addition to cancer, sleep apnea, liver fat accumulation disease, arthritis and others, culminating in disabilities and higher mortality. A very low BMI of 12,5 or less, is also associated with wasting-related illnesses.

What is surprising, comment Ahima and Lazar, is that mild obesity was not associated with higher mortality in a study involving millions of people, and overweight was even associated with lower mortality. These results were overwhelming at the time, but there are methodological doubts about how the BMI’s were aggregated, for example, and factors such as weight loss and history were not considered.

It is not entirely surprising that a BMI in the overweight range can be associated with health, however, because BMI is a blind tool that it only considers the weight, without considering the fat content in the body, whether this fat is visceral (between the organs, especially in the belly) or dermal (just under the skin). The nuance brought by Ahima and Lazar is that about 12% of overweight and technically obese people (but with a BMI less than 25) are apparently healthy because they exercise and have good muscle tone, they have more dermal than visceral fat. In other words, these cases are an exception, not an excuse for self-diagnosis or sedentary lifestyle. And they are not risk free.

Risky decisions and fashions dangerous07170214The association with obesity is clearer considering the risk of hospitalization, intubation and covid death, it remains to be evaluated how societies have treated overweight before, during and after the pandemic. The lockdowns, which almost entirely included the closing of gyms, have an even more disastrous appearance, in addition to the economy, directly interfering with the risks of the covid.

A study of more than seven thousand people revealed that between February and June 2003, each one won on average 680 more grams per month

. For most of them, if this pattern continued into the next year, it would mean being overweight or obese. Hardly, however, those responsible for such policies will be called with the hyperbole of “genocide” by the activists who use it against those who raised doubts (reasonable and unreasonable) against the new vaccines.

In the West, the craze for identitism — a progressive mix of postmodern, politically correct ideas, vulnerable narcissism, irrational biases , encouraging frailty and authoritarian intervention on those who disagree with the ideology — was applied to overweight. The singer Adele was criticized for losing weight, as well as the tragically deceased Marília Mendonça. Influencers who preach that being obese is beautiful and healthy add millions of followers on Instagram. The word “fat phobia” was popularized to label without distinction cruel treatments against fat people and medical warnings against the various risks of obesity. Not even the jokes — which could be a way of conveying this alert and giving a little push to the acceptance of changing habits — were not immune to the wave of cancellations.

Still, there will be an insistence that only the anti-vaccination movement and state inaction were problems in this pandemic: not a culture that increasingly embraces sedentary lifestyles and an aesthetic that can often be pathological.

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