How America’s obesity epidemic could exacerbate deadly impact of coronavirus

| | April 2, 2020
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

With businesses facing bankruptcy, schools closed and sports events canceled, President Trump and others have now asked: Is the cure worse than the disease?

According to this way of thinking, we should refocus our efforts on those most at risk for complications from coronavirus, the elderly and people with chronic disease, so that others can soon return to a semblance of normal life.

But this strategy is dangerously misguided for one simple reason: The huge burden of obesity and other chronic conditions among Americans puts most of us at direct risk.

Despite common perceptions, it’s not just the elderly and frail who are at significant risk of a life-threatening complication. Data from China suggest that many chronic health problems increase the likelihood of a bad outcome, including cardiovascular disease ….

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Today, more than two of three [US] adults have high body weight, and 42 percent have obesity …. Excessive weight, and the poor-quality diet that causes it, is strongly associated with …. abnormalities that may lower immunity to viral respiratory infection or predispose to complications.

So calls to relax restrictions offer a false choice. Letting the pandemic ravage the population won’t save money — it simply risks even greater economic calamity.

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