Weekly News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19 - 11th January | World Obesity Federation

Weekly News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19 - 11th January

NewsWeekly News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19 - 11th January

We are compiling stories from credible sources representing all regions of the world, including academic articles, position statements and mainstream news, amongst others. 

If you have signed up to our newsletter, we will be sending this digest to your inbox every Monday during the current pandemic. If you have any stories from your country or discipline, please send through to us at eneeds@worldobesity.org.


How Covid-19 changed what Ireland eats and cooks (Irish Times)

A recent survey of 2,360 participants by researchers at the Queen’s University Belfast and National University of Ireland Galway found that home cooking has greatly increased since the start of the pandemic. People are using fresh, more minimally processed ingredients, eating out less, wasting less food, eating more vegetables, and taking in more saturated fats. Parents are also allowing their children to help in the kitchen more in all surveyed areas except the United States, which has been associated with better diets.


Age, sex, comorbidities impact outcomes after COVID-19 hospitalisation (Healio)
Researchers used the health records of 19,584 COVID-19 patients to determine which patients were more likely to become extremely ill or die from the disease. Patients were much more likely to die if they required mechanical ventilation and much more likely to be hospitalized if they were older. A large proportion of the study population did have obesity, indicating that this condition may increase hospitalisation risk, but patients with underweight were more likely to die than those with overweight.


Covid lockdowns prompt fears over child obesity rise (BBC)

Due to high existing rates of childhood overweight in Northern Wales, the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has developed a new weight management programme, which is especially timely as experts fear major increases in childhood obesity caused by the lockdown. Children with obesity may develop fatty liver disease, pre-diabetes, and high blood pressure. The board hopes to create interventions that will increase physical activity to prevent obesity and develop specialty services for treatment of those who do have obesity. In the article, one father describes his daughter’s experience living with obesity and how the pandemic has affected her physical and mental health.



Cosmopolitan Magazine has been scrutinised for its decision to feature women with diverse body types on its February cover along with an article detailing 11 of these women. The article is titled “This is Healthy.” Some people have criticised the magazine for supposedly promoting obesity, while many others have praised it for its inclusivity and stance against the stigmatisation of obesity.


The Covid-19 pandemic worsened an already dire childhood obesity epidemic (CNN)

Many paediatricians have been seeing weight gain in their patients since the beginning of the pandemic, likely due to the disruptions in daily life that COVID-19 has caused, which may put children at higher risk for overweight and obesity. These are magnified for children of colour because they already face major health disparities. Distance learning, impaired sleep patterns, more food consumption, food insecurity, and mental health concerns all drive obesity.

Child Obesity Spreads Due to Coronavirus Pandemic (Korea BizWire)          

A study of primary school students conducted last year in South Korea indicated an alarming increase in average BMI and the prevalence of overweight. This may put children at higher risk for comorbidities, such as diabetes or fatty liver. The article attributes this increase to decreased exercise and increased snacking due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Depression, obesity may be major risk factors for COVID-19 complications (Jerusalem Post)

While the elderly are commonly considered to be at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease, a recent study of 4353 COVID-19 patients found comorbidities to be predictors of severe disease among younger patients. Younger patients with obesity were eleven times more likely to develop complications. Older patients with obesity had a less pronounced but still significant risk of complications. Other conditions found to increase the risk of complications from COVID-19 included clinical depression, cognitive disorders, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.


The spectre of a Covid-19-malnutrition syndemic (Financial Express)

India is experiencing high rates of under- and overnutrition simultaneously, which is particularly concerning because it makes individuals more susceptible to COVID-19. COVID-19 is also projected to significantly decrease food security, putting people at greater risk for malnutrition. Interdepartmental actions that solve both types of malnutrition and reduce COVID-19 transmission are urgently needed.


Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets: Global and national strategy (Jakarta Post)

Indonesia faces challenges when it comes to food security, which contributes to over- and undernutrition. COVID-19 has underlined the importance of increasing food system resilience. A webinar titled “Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets: Global and national strategy,” based on the report of the same name, aims to enable cooperation between and within the private sector, academia, and the government.


The Pandemic and Childhood Weight Gain (Tufts Now)

According to Dan Hatfield, research assistant at Tufts University, major disparities in obesity rates can be seen among children of colour in the United States. He attributes this to environmental factors and chronic stress. COVID-19 will increase these disparities and overall rates of overweight and obesity, based on historical trends. He provides several recommendations for parents regarding encouragement of physical activity and the provision of healthy diets.