Remember when Democratic governors shut down all of the gyms and told us to stay home? According to a recent analysis by the World Obesity Federation, that was not the best idea. About 2.2 million of the 2.5 million global coronavirus deaths, or about 90%, were in countries with high levels of obesity.
Researchers pointed to the World Health Organization-backed study that showed death rates were 10 times higher in counties, such as the U.S, where at least 50 percent of the total population is overweight.
In the UK, the obesity rate is the fourth-highest in the world and the third-highest for the COVID-19 death rate. Countries with less than 40 percent of the population with a weight problem had low death rates from the virus overall. Vietnam, for example, has the lowest coronavirus death rate in the world and the second-lowest level of overweight people, with 18.3 percent of adults overweight.
Tim Lobstein, an expert advisor to the World Obesity Federation who co-led the report, applauded countries such as Japan and South Korea for prioritizing public health across a range of measures.
“Look at countries like Japan and South Korea, where they have very low levels of COVID-19 deaths as well as very low levels of adult obesity. They have prioritized public health across a range of measures, including population weight, and it has paid off in the pandemic,” Lobstein said.
Medical experts also believe weight to be the second-biggest predictor of severe illness from the virus after age, indicating people who are obese may be as much as ten times more likely to die of COVID-19.
“[This] must act as a wake-up call to governments globally. The correlation between obesity and mortality rates from COVID-19 is clear and compelling. Investment in public health and coordinated, international action to tackle the root causes of obesity is one of the best ways for countries to build resilience in health systems post-pandemic. We urge all countries to seize this moment,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
While researchers look to prioritize overweight people for vaccinations, others point to a similar study in February of 2021 that suggests the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may not be as effective on obese people.
Researchers in Rome found that their bodies produced, on average, about 50 percent of the antibodies as did people within a normal weight range. The study had evaluated the effect of the vaccine on 248 health care workers seven days after the final dose. They warned that a reduced antibody response to the virus may hinder inoculation efforts.
John Wilding, president of the World Obesity Federation, said obesity needs to be recognized as one of the key COVID-19 health risks and taken into account in vaccination plans. He said people need to know that it increases the risk, as well as other diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The World Obesity Federation is now calling for obese individuals, as well as the elderly, to be prioritized for vaccination.
As this was common sense from the beginning, why didn’t democratic governments put equal enthusiasm into the health of our nation as they did locking us up home and sticking cloth over our mouths? Oh right, it was never about the health.