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This article by dietician Zarina Ebrahi of Stellenbosh University argues that South Africans must take precautions to reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, as these may cause complications if they contract COVID-19. Obesity rates in South Africa are extremely high, which significantly contributes to death and disability. She suggests that people follow the Mediterranean diet in order to reduce chronic inflammation.
A recent study determined that, while lockdown measures led to healthier diets on average, many people exercised less and developed symptoms of anxiety. Those with obesity reported more extreme lifestyle changes, which may be connected to increased stress, eating habits, healthier diets, and less sleep. The study included 7,753 participants, predominantly from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
While many parents have been seeking out Canadian clinics to help their children fight obesity during the pandemic, lack of government funding is threatening said clinics. This article details the positive experiences of several families at the clinics. As COVID-19 can be more severe in those with overweight and obesity, multiple organizations have highlighted the ramifications of coexisting non-communicable disease and COVID-19 pandemics, including the Lancet, the UN, and the World Health Organization.
Major disparities in childhood obesity rates exist between lower- and higher-income areas of the UK, as determined by the National Childhood Measurement Programme. Sidonie Sakula-Barry of the World Cancer Research Fund notes that obesity rates have increased every year that the programme has been conducted, despite anti-obesity measures, demonstrating the urgency of reducing the cost of healthy foods. As individuals with overweight or obesity are more likely to become severely ill or die if they also contract COVID-19, effective obesity interventions such as restrictions on the advertising of unhealthy products are needed.
Multiple shocks to the UK food system, including disruptions from COVID-19, changes due to Brexit, and ongoing climate crisis may dramatically increase food prices within the United Kingdom. The UK relies heavily on imported food and a “No deal” Brexit may result in tariffs passed onto consumers, especially as stores have taken a financial hit due to COVID-19, although it is also possible that these could be distributed along the food chain. However, higher prices would be extremely detrimental to those suffering from food insecurity.
This news briefing from the British Medical Journal answers some frequently asked questions about COVID-19. Stephen O’Rahilly of the Medical Research Council’s Metabolic Diseases Unit believes that the usual attribution of excess fat tissue in the lungs is not nuanced enough and instead suggests that complex metabolic changes are at fault. Additionally, experts indicated that reduced immune function and heighted prevalence of comorbidities explain high death rates in the elderly. Asymptomatic spread is to blame for difficulties in infection control.
An new service developed by Food Standards Scotland is intended to enable consumers to make healthier dietary decisions in order to target obesity rates, especially in the context of COVID-19. Reductions in portion sizes due to the sugar tax have been ineffective, as the The Scottish Diet: It Needs To Change report published by the same agency indicates that more of these foods are being purchased. It also suggests that restrictions on promotions of sugary foods be implemented.
Doctors have observed that COVID-19 patients with obesity are more likely to develop severe disease. Many patients do poorly if they require mechanical ventilation and some patients with Class III obesity develop high blood sugar levels as a result of infection. The WHO acknowledges that weight gain has a major genetic component but recommends that people attempt to mitigate it through a healthy lifestyle.