OPINION: Biden Should Attack Obesity to Curb COVID Hospitalizations and Deaths

Posted on August 9, 2021 by EDITORIAL BOARD

Around 30% of COVID hospitalizations are due to obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, we haven’t seen a newsworthy push for Americans to get serious about losing weight.

What we have seen are government and health care workers being compelled to take COVID vaccinations, which the CDC’s own study suggests may be ineffective in fighting variants of concern, such as Delta(1).

When will the Biden administration address the elephant in the room? No pun intended!

Per the National Institutes of Health, being obese and overweight are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States – not far behind using tobacco.

Around 2.8 million people die each year from obesity, including an estimated 300,000 in America.

In the United States, nearly 40% of adults are obese(2). That costs about $190.2 billion annually(3). About 450 million additional days of work are lost each year compared to healthy workers, resulting in billions in lost productivity(4).

When it comes to COVID, being overweight or obese not only puts you at greater risk for hospitalization but also threatens your ability to survive.

If the government truly cared about you, the Biden administration would develop incentives to reward those who shed the pounds. Insurance companies could be rewarded for incentivizing policy holders to get healthier. Businesses could also be given incentives for innovative programs to get employees active.

Additionally, there could be Surgeon General warnings on foods with high sugar or fat content – similar to the warning labels on tobacco products. French fries and soft drinks should be targeted first.

But since these mitigation efforts aren’t being done, it’s on you…

How do you know whether or not you’re overweight or obese? NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has a webpage for calculating body mass index (BMI):https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm

If you don’t know your current weight, Publix stores in Florida have free public scales, thanks to Founder George Jenkins.

A BMI of 25% is overweight and more than 30% is obese. If you’re BMI isn’t under 25%, you can talk to your health provider to find out ways to get healthier through weight loss.

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7031e2.htm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  3. http://www.healthycommunitieshealthyfuture.org/learn-the-facts/economic-costs-of-obesity/
  4. https://news.gallup.com/poll/150026/unhealthy-workers-absenteeism-costs-153-billion.aspx#:~:text=Unhealthy%20U.S.%20Workers%27%20Absenteeism%20Costs%20%24153%20Billion%20About,chronic%20condition%20by%20Dan%20Witters%20and%20Sangeeta%20Agrawal

Publix photo.