Weekly News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19 - 30th November

NewsWeekly News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19 - 30th November

We will be 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.


Lancet Commission calls for global task force on diabetes (The Hindu)

A recent report by the Lancet has warned of possible damaging effects of coronavirus on pancreatic islets, responsible for regulating blood sugar.  It recommends that a task force be established in order  to “design, steer, and support a multicomponent strategy to address the multidimensional nature of diabetes and other NCDs”.

In Those With Obesity, Will Losing Weight Cut COVID-19 Severity? (Medscape)

Experts call for clinicians to be "more aware of complications of obesity and refer earlier for treatment," as increasing numbers of studies indicate that people with obesity are at higher risk of severe illness or even death from Covid-19. However, there is not yet clear evidence as to whether significant weight loss immediately reduces this risk, or whether ongoing immune system dysfunction may cause continued complications.  

COVID-19 patients of all ages with obesity face higher risk of complications, death (American Heart Association News)

A study has shown that people with obesity – regardless of age – are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a higher risk of complication or death. Patients with severe obesity had slightly more than double the risk of being put on a ventilator and 26% higher risk of death, with this association strongest in younger adults.

COVID-19 reminds us of the need to focus on health equity (Fortune - Opinion)

The authors highlight the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable communities and call for a “commitment to fundamentally reform the health system to equitably benefit all underrepresented and underserved communities”. The American Heart Association has identified structural racism as a barrier to improving cardiovascular health and a fundamental driver of poor health and premature death. 

'Famines of biblical proportions' feared in 2021 amid COVID-19 pandemic, UN food agency warns (ABC 13)

David Beasley, Head of the UN World Food Programme, has said that the world is on the brink of a “hunger pandemic’” that could lead to "multiple famines of biblical proportions" within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken. Beasley says the organisation needs $15 billion next year -- $5 billion just to avert famine and $10 billion to carry out the agency's global programs, and that world leaders must prioritise their funding to avert further deterioration as a result of extended Covid-19 lockdowns. 

COVID-19: Consequences of ‘chronic under-investment in public health’ laid bare (Modern Diplomacy)

The head of the World Health Organization has said that the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the impact of chronic under-investment in healthcare and called for societies to re-evaluate how they value health. In order to facilitate a shift in thinking towards healthcare as an investment rather than a cost, he announced a new Council on the Economics of Health for All to focus on the links between health and sustainable, inclusive economic growth. 

Inflammatory factors that aggravate COVID-19 may come from adipose tissue (News Medical)

Evidence suggests that adipose tissue plays a key role in the aggravation of Covid-19. One theory currently being investigated is that fat cells act as a reservoir for the virus and increase the viral load in people living with overweight or obesity. There is also a suggestion that during infection, fat cells release substances that boost inflammatory reactions to the virus. 

How food and tobacco giants used Covid-19 to exploit the poor (The Citizen, South Africa)

Reports have suggested that some big brands in the food and tobacco industries have used the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic to promote ultra-processed food and tobacco products, potentially contributing further to deaths linked to non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes. This impact has been particularly evident among vulnerable populations around the world. 

COVID-19: In a first, public development banks pledge to end hunger, poverty (Down To Earth)

Latest estimates from the World Food Programme have projected that by the end of 2020, 265 million people will be facing extreme hunger as a result of the pandemic. In response to this, 13 public development banks have made a joint commitment to strengthen investments in food and agriculture. They agreed to support the development of financial products tailored to the needs of small-hold farmers in order to promote more sustainable and inclusive food systems. 

Higher COVID Infection Risk Seen in Those With Genetic Obesity, ‘Bad’ Cholesterol (Genetic Obesity News)

A study has reported that people who are genetically predisposed to obesity or high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol have an increased chance of contracting COVID-19. It indicates that people with a genetic predisposition toward a high BMI were significantly around 15% more likely to test positive for the virus.