Weekly News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19 - 9th October

NewsWeekly News Digest: Obesity and COVID-19 - 9th October

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.


News 

CDC Expands Covid Risk Warning to Include Overweight People (Bloomberg)

The Centers for Disease Control and prevention have updated their website to include overweight under their list of possible risk factors for severe COVID-19. This comes as the result of a meta-analysis of studies linking COVID-19 and obesity by Barry Popkin, who also believes that a vaccine may be less effective in people with overweight and obesity. The article also briefly describes BMI measurements and Donald Trump’s recent illness.

Weight Loss Surgeries Up 20% Over Last Year As Obesity Contributes To COVID-19 Complications (CBS Local Denver)

According to bariatric surgeon Dr Frank Chae, 24-40% more Americans are seeking bariatric surgery this year than were last year, likely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He notes that people who receive bariatric surgery are often unable to lose weight through diet and exercise alone but recommends that people unwilling to undergo surgery attempt these weight management techniques.

Why Obesity Is So Dangerous With COVID-19 (Eat This Not That)

This article explains the relationship between COVID-19 and obesity, detailing the risks of heart disease and blood clots, immunosuppression , diabetes, and impaired lung function. It recommends that everyone follow public health protocols strictly to avoid contracting or spreading the virus.

Cardiac disease outweighs obesity in death rates of COVID-19 patients: Japanese study (The Mainchi)

A study of 2,638  hospitalised Japanese COVID-19 patients determined that people with obesity or similar illnesses are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 than those with heart disease. However, the mortality rate (death rate) is higher among patients with heart disease, although this may be mitigated through treatment. Additionally, 15% of the patients did develop long-term effects from COVID-19.

Only losing weight can help (Mumbai Mirror)

According to Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist, people with overweight and obesity tend to have difficulties mounting an adequate immune response, which can be reversed through weight loss. He has released a book about the Pioppi diet which emphasizes low carbohydrate intake, high fat intake, and avoidance of processed foods. Finally, he is concerned that, due to the global prevalence of overweight and obesity, a vaccine may be less effective than previously thought.

Global Health warns: Obesity increases the risk of infection with Corona... (al Khaleej Today)

As the WHO has acknowledged that people with obesity may develop severe COVID-19 at seven times the rate of people without, and obesity levels are rising in Egypt, bariatric surgeon Dr. Khaled Gawdat notes that surgery is an option for weight management. This process is safe and can be given at low cost for patients in need. Further more, the Egyptian Association for the Study of Obesity recommends that patients with obesity attempt to decrease their weight by 15% and continue to taking any prescribed medication.

National Nutrition and Obesity Week: Good Nutrition For Good Immunity (iAfrica)

October 9th to October 19th is National Nutrition and Obesity week in South Africa, so multiple organisations are partnering with the National Health Department to prevent and educate the public about under- and overnutrition. The country has particularly high rates of obesity. In this article, multiple experts discuss diets, exercise, childhood obesity, and breastfeeding. As COVID-19 is still ongoing, this week comes at a particularly important time, so the article concludes with a list of recommendations for healthy eating.

Sugar reduction in food well below target of 20% (BBC)

Recent data from Public Health England shows that some products (cereals, yogurts, and fromage fraises) have been able to reduce the sugar content in their foods much more than others (chocolate bars and biscuits). All fall short of the voluntary 20% sugar reduction that was hoped for. As the sugar-sweetened beverage tax much more successful in reducing sugar content, the Public Health Minister and chief nutritionist of Public Health England believe that progress must be sped up.

The impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on body image issues (CGTN)

A survey of 8,000 UK residents found that over half of adults and even more children and adolescents reported holding a more negative body image as a result of COVD-19 lockdowns. They indicated that advertisements on social media, pressure to lose weight during quarantine, and the frequency of  video conferences promoted these feelings. Additionally, the UK obesity strategy and media focus on lockdown weight gain was detrimental in this regard. Experts promote hostility approaches that emphasize wellness instead of just weight loss and diversity within media and advertising.


Opinion:

COVID-19, food and nutrition, and the presidential debates (The Hill) 

Cardiologists Dr Eric J Brandt and Dariush Mozaffaraian criticise the first US presidential debate for its lack of focus on food policy. They acknowledge that vaccine development is vital but urge healthy food interventions as both a treatment and preventative measure against COVID-19 because people with overweight, obesity, and other diet-related diseases are at much higher risk for severe disease. They list several policies, including SNAP incentives and disincentives that promote healthier food choices, produce prescription programmes, and increased funding for nutrition research and education, which may promote healthier diets across the US.

For food and security in the UAE, think local (Gulf News)

Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates has renewed his focus on food security and the global food system. They hope to develop desalination and cloud seeding technologies in order to improve the UAE water supply. Additionally, research is being done into farming in desert regions. These innovations come as a direct result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

How To Make Nutritious Food Affordable For The 1 Billion Africans (Africa.com)

This article claims that diet-related diseases were responsible for a substantial proportion of sickness and death within Africa before the pandemic and their impact has only been highlighted by the arrival of COVID-19. Research by the UN shows that 74% of people on the continent are unable to afford healthy diets, which has only been exacerbated by COVID-19, necessitating reform. The author recommends aligning public policy with the goal of nutrition for all, incentivizing private investment in healthy food, developing consumer demand for healthy food over ultra-processed products through healthy eating campaigns, and using civil society organisations to advocate for nutrition.