We each develop patterns throughout our lives that help form habits. Public health recommendations initiated over the last several months in an effort to contain the COVID virus are impacting habits and will cause a rise in obesity.
There isn’t a healthy overweight population. If you’re overweight you WILL experience some degree of health complication (whether you want to admit it or not). This isn’t a popular opinion but it’s truthful. Fact:
“… irrespective of metabolic health, overweight and obese people had higher CHD risk than lean people. These findings challenge the concept of ‘metabolically healthy obesity’, encouraging population-wide strategies to tackle obesity.” – European Heart Journal
What exactly are the impacts of our collective reaction to COVID-19?
Whether you agree or disagree with how/what should have been done to prevent the spread, this is likely the outcome:
Strict Social Distancing (the Obesity Outcomes)
The goal: to isolate millions of individuals and avoid transmission of COVID-19.
The outcome (with citations):
Companies pushed to bankruptcy, loss of jobs, the poor being impacted at the greatest rate (not citing anything here, just Google search anything related to the poor being impacted at the greatest rate due to COVID).
Psychological Health Deterioration & Depression
Overeating is a common outcome stemming from depression or a person’s dire outlook. “The metabolic syndrome is highly prevalent among patients with a history of depression, especially those with current major depression. This may have implications for treatment. Furthermore, attention should be focused on the physical health of those suffering from depression.” – Europe PMC
The Poorest in Society
“Obesity is among the most common and costly chronic disorders worldwide. Estimates suggest that in the United States obesity affects one-third of adults, accounts for up to one-third of total mortality, is concentrated among lower income groups, and increasingly affects children as well as adults.” – Oxford Academic
Those who are struggling to get by with minimal resources are the most likely to eat a diet high in carbohydrates and low in nutritional value. I’m not demonizing carbs… I am making the connection with how carbs do not satisfy for an extended period of time. The more carbs you eat, the hungrier and more irritable you get later (this is just common knowledge in relation to blood glucose). A diet high in carbs will cause a greater fluctuation in blood glucose (highs and lows) which promotes insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. In turn these issues (if prolonged) are likely to cause type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Loss of Meaningful Social Interaction
One of the best ways to feel good is to be with other people who support and love you. Meaningful social interactions have been significantly reduced due to measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Stress from not connecting is real and so is that stress’ impact on abdominal obesity:
…”Based on this evidence it is suggested that environmental, perinatal and genetic factors induce neuroendocrine perturbations followed by abdominal obesity with its associated comorbidities.” – Wiley Online Library
“Obesity and associated metabolic diseases have long been thought to exhibit significant comorbidity with stress-associated psychological disorders like anxiety and depression…” – Neuroendocrine Circuits Governing Energy Balance and Stress Regulation: Functional Overlap and Therapeutic Implications
Conclusion & My Plea
Make no mistake, being obese doesn’t define the person. It’s NOT who you are. It’s only a symptom. However, it’s a real, dangerous symptom.
The good news is: it can be controlled and reversed with proper intervention.
The bad news is: it’s going to become a bigger problem societally due to government interventions in relation to COVID-19.
If we recognize this now, we may be able to take accountability and make choices that will better our personal outcomes. The insights we learn during this Pandemic SHOULD provide good data on how policy should be configured and carried out to protect the well-being of everyone.
My plea: Data should be used to weigh the adverse impacts of a lockdown. We must use this data in determining benefit vs. risk in relation to government imposed lockdown strategies.