In the early days of the COVID mania I kept hearing the same thing from my doctor friends: The COVID patients they were seeing in ICUs were almost all obese.
Looking online, I found the occasional journal study documenting the same, but these studies rarely surfaced in the mainstream media.
In early March 2020, COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned obesity, but he listed it deep in a string of potential co-morbidities: “heart disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, respiratory difficulties.”
Despite the fact that obesity was the easily the most prevalent of those conditions and the one variable the individual could control, Fauci never pressed the issue.
Indeed, Fauci did quite the opposite. He recommended that gyms be closed and people shelter in place. You did not have be an epidemiologist to anticipate the results of that recommendation.
Last week, Dr. Gregory Marcus reported in a peer-reviewed journal that Americans who kept up their lockdown habits could easily have gained 20 pounds during the last year.
“We know that weight gain is a public health problem in the U.S. already,” Marcus told the New York Times, “so anything making it worse is definitely concerning, and shelter-in-place orders are so ubiquitous that the sheer number of people affected by this makes it extremely relevant.”
In mid-April 2020, Newsweek ran an article headlined, “Obesity One of the Biggest Risk Factors in COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Study Suggests.”
The article quoted the head of the French COVID task force as saying: “Those who are overweight really need to be careful. That is why we’re worried about our friends in America, where the problem of obesity is well-known and where they will probably have the most problems because of obesity.”
Yes, the problem of obesity in America is well-known. Yes, it was known at the outset of the pandemic that obesity was a potential killer, but the Newsweek article got shockingly little traction.
In the U.S., most overweight people seemed oblivious of the extra risk they were running. This included heath care workers who were volunteering for front line work and sometimes dying as a result of it.
Early this month, long after it will have done much good, the CDC released a study confirming what those paying attention had long known, namely that 78% of the people who had been hospitalized or died as a result of COVID were overweight or obese.
There are three reasons why, for all the media chatter about COVID, precious little of it was dedicated to the one risk factor people could control – their weight.
The obvious one is the PC fear of “fat shaming.” In October 2016, provoked by a Donald Trump comment about an overweight former beauty pageant winner, the New York Times produced an article headline, “The Shame of Fat Shaming.”
Although the opposition to fat shaming was understandable, by 2016 obesity had become very nearly the trip wire that race and sex and sexual orientation already were and, as such, was detonated when politically useful.
The second reason for suppressing talk of obesity’s role in COVID deaths was more sinister. As the CDC noted in a study unrelated to COVID, “Non-Hispanic Black adults (49.6%) had the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity, followed by Hispanic adults (44.8%).”
By ignoring that variable, the media eagerly produced literally thousands of headlines such as this November 2020 one from US News: “Blacks, Hispanics Account for More Than Half of COVID Deaths: Study.”
The insinuation in many such articles is that racial minorities were being victimized once again because of their race. Consider the following headline in Scientific American: “Why Racism, Not Race, Is a Risk Factor for Dying of COVID-19.”
The word “obesity” does not appear in this racially paranoid interview with a black female CDC physician. It is about the only factor the good doctor does not cite.
The third reason for suppressing obesity data may be the most insidious of all. By removing that variable from international comparisons, the media could make President Trump’s performance look relatively worse.
Not only nationally, but internationally, the message was being spread that Trump had somehow uniquely mishandled the COVID crisis.
Consider this election eve 2020, headline from Vox: “Europe’s second wave of Covid-19 doesn’t excuse Trump’s failures: Trump’s failure on Covid-19 is still among the worst in the world.”
“The U.S. is also still faring worse than most of its developed peers,” claimed Vox. “It reports more daily new coronavirus cases per capita than the majority of developed countries.”
In fact, by allowing the states to make their own decisions and refusing to impose a national lockdown and other mandates, Trump easily outperformed other Western heads of states on every count that mattered, most notably freedom.
Then, of course, there was the vaccine. A May 2020 article from NBC News set the tone: “Fact check: Coronavirus vaccine could come this year, Trump says. Experts say he needs a ‘miracle’ to be right.”
“Donald Trump, Miracle Man.” Someone please let me know when you see that headline.
Jack Cashill’s new book, “Unmasking Obama: The Fight to Tell the True Story of a Failed Presidency,” is widely available. His forthcoming book, “Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply,” is available for pre-order. See also www.cashill.com.
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