Jane Brody of the New York Times has it right when she calls out obesity and Type-2 diabetes for being high risk factors for severe cases of COVID-19. This has been known since almost the beginning of the pandemic. What she doesn’t get right unnecessarily blaming meat.
Of course, in recent decades many of the policies of the department Mr. Vilsack now heads have contributed mightily to Americans’ access to inexpensive foods that flesh out their bones with unwholesome calories and undermine their health. Two telling examples: The government subsidizes the production of both soybeans and corn, most of which is used to feed livestock.
Not only does livestock production make a major contribution to global warming, much of its output ends up as inexpensive, often highly processed fast foods that can prompt people to overeat and raise their risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. But there are no subsidies for the kinds of fruits and vegetables that can counter the disorders that render people more vulnerable to the coronavirus.
It’s not meat that is the problem here. It’s the highly processed foods, sugars, and other excessive carbohydrates that we pump into our bodies. She does talk about the rest of the bad things in the average person’s diet later in the column. But I think those things should have been mentioned first because beef, chicken, and pork will not cause a person to become obese.
According to the study authors, one way that obesity might increase the risk of severe COVID-19 involves respiratory dysfunction.
People with obesity are more likely to have higher resistance in their airways, lower lung volumes, and weaker respiratory muscles, which are critical in the defense against COVID-19. These factors make an individual more likely to develop pneumonia, and they place additional stress on the heart.
Story after story crops up regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on people who have Type-2 Diabetes and/or are obese. The virus seems to affect people with these conditions regardless of age. Many times I’ve seen reports of a relatively young person (below 40 years old) with no underlying health conditions dying from the virus. Then when the show the photo of the person they appear to be obese.
What is the underlying cause of Type-2 Diabetes and obesity? Doctors on social media keep referring to “metabolic syndrome” and “metabolic health.” And it appears that this goes back to insulin resistance and the low carb movement in diet.
Carbohydrate consumption triggers a flood of insulin in your blood stream. The more this happens the more your body adjusts to having so much of it in your blood. This makes insulin less effective at doing its job thereby increasing the flow of insulin in your body. This leads to the viscous cycle in diabetics of increasing their insulin dosage to get their blood sugar levels down. Which in turn makes them less sensitive to insulin. Which in turn requires higher doses. The use of insulin is heavily tied to weight gain because glucose is removed from your blood and shoved into your fat cells.
So it may seem that the best defense against COVID-19 is to get our metabolic health in order. That requires reducing consumption of carbohydrates and highly processed foods. Getting back to the basics of meat and vegetables and cooking at home looks like the best treatment. It requires no pharmaceuticals and will help with weight loss. The best part is you don’t have to spend money on fancy diet books or weight loss programs.
Obesity may be one of the most important predictors of severe coronavirus illness, new studies say. It’s an alarming finding for the United States, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.
Though people with obesity frequently have other medical problems, the new studies point to the condition in and of itself as the most significant risk factor, after only older age, for being hospitalized with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Young adults with obesity appear to be at particular risk, studies show.
But Dr. David A. Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has a simple message for people who want to keep their metabolic health and weight in check when temptation is just a few steps from their work space: Try to avoid eating foods that contain what he calls “fast carbs,” such as refined grains, starches, corn and sugar.
These foods, like bagels, bread, breakfast cereals, juices, tortilla chips and anything made with processed flour, tend to be highly processed and devoid of fiber. They are rapidly absorbed and converted to glucose in the body, causing blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and preventing the release of hormones that quench hunger. Over time, researchers have found, this pattern of eating can wreak havoc on metabolic health, leading to weight gain and increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, conditions that can increase the risk of complications from Covid-19.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) seems to be a risk factor for acquiring the new coronavirus infection. Indeed, T2DM and hypertension have been identified as the most common comorbidities for other coronavirus infections, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV)1. According to several reports, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients with T2DM and the metabolic syndrome might have up to ten-times greater risk of death when they contract COVID-19 (CDC coronavirus reports). Although T2DM and the metabolic syndrome increase the risk of more severe symptoms and mortality in many infectious diseases, there are some additional specific mechanistic aspects in coronavirus infections that require separate consideration, which will have clinical consequences for improved management of patients who are severely affected.
A recent commentary In Nature states that “patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome might have to up 10 times greater risk of death when they contract COVID-19” and has called for mandatory glucose and metabolic control of type 2 diabetes patients to improve outcomes. The authors also suggest making this a priority in ALL patients with COVID 19 will be beneficial. (12) It’s instructive to note that the disproportionate numbers of those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds succumbing to the virus may in part be explained by a significantly increased risk of chronic metabolic disease in these groups. For example, those of south Asian origin living in the UK type 2 diabetes is 2.5 -5 times more prevalent and three times more common in those of African-Caribbean descent in comparison to Caucasians.
I wonder if they were using their brains while conducting this study? From the short article there isn’t enough information to say anything regarding weight and the brain. All they did was take measurements six years apart. There is no way to know what these people did in between the time the measurements were taken. Seems like a rather worthless study to me unless it motivates people to shed some pounds.
About 27% of participants had a BMI of less than 25, which is considered normal, while 44% were classified as overweight and 29% were labeled as obese. People with higher BMIs had thinner cortexes, even after adjusting for various factors, including high blood pressure, alcohol use and smoking, the study found. Having a bigger waist size was also associated with a thinner cortex.