World Obesity Federation welcomes the report on the COVID-19 response. We commend the ongoing efforts by WHO and Member States.
In light of the evidence showing that obesity is one of the major pre-existing conditions that increases the risk of COVID-19 complications, we welcome obesity being recognised as a key independent risk factor for COVID-19 severity.
However, as a result of COVID-19 and the measures taken to curb the pandemic, we are seeing a detrimental impact on the provision of health services and care, including for people living with obesity. Too many obesity patients have sadly lost their lives to COVID-19. We are concerned that guidelines to ensure quality care around COVID-19 for people living with obesity remain absent. We are also concerned that COVID-19 is disrupting access to healthy diets and physical activity opportunities. Despite the proven links between obesity and COVID-19 mortality risk, there are possibilities that obesity rates, especially among children, may increase during the pandemic.
We therefore call on Member States to:
- Recognise obesity as a disease requiring urgent action, both in the short and long term.
- Ensure that responses to COVID-19 integrate prevention policies for obesity and other NCDs, including those which enable equitable access to nutritionally adequate food, support physical activity and promote good mental health.
- Allocate health system resources to ensure appropriate care for people living with obesity who require COVID-19 treatment, while ensuring access to routine services remains.
- Ensure that people living with obesity are consulted throughout the development of guidance and policies affecting their care.
- Ensure people living with obesity are included in COVID-19 treatment research and vaccine rollout.
- Support calls for a WHA resolution on obesity to ensure equitable global action on obesity, covering prevention, treatment and management of the disease.