Coronavirus and obesity: time to take action?
Of the 2.5 million coronavirus deaths worldwide, 2.2 million were in countries with a comparatively high obesity rate, according to a study put out by the World Obesity Federation this week. Previous studies also establish a link between severe Covid cases and obesity. Should efforts to combat obesity be ramped up? And if so, how? Opinions are divided.
Normalisation of obesity must end
There must be an open discussion of the problems associated with obesity, The Daily Telegraph appeals:
“The experience of Covid should not be cynically manipulated to apply guilt. But there is a place for a mature conversation about mortality and its relationship to personal choice. During lockdown many have felt frightened and trapped, their agency stripped from them. As we regain control of our lives, it makes sense to promote self-governance and freedom, by explaining how risk works and extolling the benefits of exercise and good diet. The cultural normalisation of obesity certainly has to end. The situation will only get worse if we pretend poor choices have no consequences.”
No blaming and shaming, please!
People who are overweight must not be stigmatised, warns nutritionist Niamh Arthurs in the Irish Examiner:
“Much greater understanding in society and across healthcare services is needed that obesity is not the result of 'wrong' behaviour and playing the 'blame and shame' game does not help individuals or families affected by overweight or obesity. There are complex links between biology, genetics and living environments that contribute to the current prevalence of overweight and obesity in Ireland and in the world. We all need to challenge our own thoughts and internal biases on body size or shape and consider the complexities of obesity as a chronic, progressive and relapsing disease.”
Tax the junk food manufacturers
De Volkskrant columnist Bert Wagendorp calls for government intervention to tackle the problem:
“Unhealthy food is commercially attractive because fat, sugar and salt are delicious, tempting and cheap. The accountants at PwC have calculated that unhealthy food costs Dutch society 8.8 billion euros a year, with 6 billion going towards healthcare costs. It would only be fair to make the companies that produce it bear the costs of this unhealthy rubbish. Or the distributors, like supermarkets and the American calorie dealers who stuff us with their hamburgers, chicken nuggets and disgusting pizzas.”