COVID makes a two-bagger with stress related overeating and poor nutrition. The American population’s crawl to obesity was gaining speed before the pandemic. Now, it is a fly ball with no indication of being caught.
In 2016 a CDC report revealed that over the last 20 years Americans have been gaining weight. The average American woman’s weight increased from 152 to 169 since 1988. Children also gained weight. Eleven-year-old girls gained an average of seven pounds during the period researchers analyzed, while boys gained more than 13 pounds. In most of these cases weight gain occurred even when heights remained nearly the same.[i] Enter the pandemic and we are horrified at the climb in weight in just 2 years.
A survey was conducted by The Harris Poll between Feb. 19-24. The survey included 3,013 adults of all age groups. Those who reported undesired weight gain during the pandemic gained an average of a whopping 29 lbs. Responders who were parents reported an average of 36-pound gain and those considered essential workers 38 pounds. There was a slightly higher gain for people of color than Caucasian. 78% of responders report COVID as a major stress for them. [ii]
COVID hits a deadly home-run for those who are obese. The CDC now reports that having obesity increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Those who are overweight may also be at risk. Having obesity triples the risk of hospitalization as it is linked to impaired immune function and decreased lung capacity. Scarier, still, is that death from invasive mechanical ventilation increases with BMI (body mass index).[iii]
With the rise of specialized medicine, the family physician is less and less likely to address nutrition in a patient’s health care. In fact, only 29% of medical schools offer the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education.[iv] Nurses, who are on the front line of patient care, receive even less training. One nurse reported that she received only a half day of training regarding nutrition.
Genesis 1:29 God says, “I give you every seed-bearing plant…and every tree that has fruit…they will be your food.” (NIV) The American diet is loaded with salt and fat and preservatives. Most Americans do not eat the daily recommended number of green vegetables. Christian, get in the game. I Corinthians 6:19 reminds us, “do you not know that your bodies are temples”? (NIV) As a witness to the work of the Holy Spirit in you, be aware of what you eat. Be involved by how you choose to spend your food dollars. It will make a difference at the cash register and in your health. Be a coach. Educate your children in simple ways to make changes necessary to stay healthy through nutrition. Americans with diabetes will cost our health care system millions of dollars this year, not to mention the loss of life. Don’t let COVID win the game. Make the next play.
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[i] https://www.orlandohealth.com/content-hub/americans-are-gaining-weight-every-decade [ii] https://www.advisory.com/en/daily-briefing/2021/04/21/weight-gain [iii] https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/obesity-and-covid-19.html [iv] https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/2016-12-07/how-much-do-doctors-learn-about-nutrition