Scientists say coronavirus lockdowns could cause another problem: obesity

Obesity Affects More Than 4 out of 10 American Adults, Study Reveals Findings stem from a 2017-2018 health survey revealed by the CDC. It had over 5,000 participants whose weight was measured by their body mass index (BMI). According to the survey, 42 percent were found to be obese. In a 2015-2016 survey, the rate was 40 percent. Government researchers add that almost 1 in 10 U.S. adults are severely obese. Around 50 years ago, the severe condition was noted in just 1 in 100 adults. The survey's nu

Every week doctors discover more effects of the coronavirus and COVID-19, such as blood clots, decreased lung function and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children.

Scientists in Copenhagen, Denmark, now warn of a side effect facing even those who aren’t infected — obesity.

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Associate professor Christoffer Clemmensen and two colleagues at the University of Copenhagen and at Aarhus University said rates of obesity may explode because of strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“We are concerned that policy makers do not fully understand how strategies such as lockdowns and business closures could fuel the rise of obesity — a chronic disease with severe health implications, but with few reliable treatment options,” they wrote in a letter published in the scientific journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology.

The trio noted that people with lower incomes are more likely to eat highly processed food. These foods have been shown to stimulate people’s appetites, so that they end up eating more calories than they need.

“It is likely that more people will turn to these forms of food, as more people lose their jobs and experience economic hardship,” said co-author Michael Bang Petersen, a professor at Aarhus University.

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The scientists also warned that “physical distancing increases anxiety by limiting our ability to socially interact. Feelings of loneliness and isolation, combined with confinement within a home setting, can impact our food behavior and lead us to overeat. This effect is compounded by lower levels of physical activity, as people are urged to work from home and venture out as little as possible.”

Thorkild I.A. Sørensen, the third researcher in the trio, stressed that we don’t understand how a person’s mental health and economic status end up increasing a person’s risk of developing obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, 30-35% of Georgia’s adults are obese, meaning their body mass index, or BMI, is 30 or higher. In addition to contributing to high blood pressure and diabetes, obesity can make vaccines less effective.

“Obesity is a serious global problem, and the suboptimal vaccine-induced immune responses observed in the obese population cannot be ignored,” researchers from the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group wrote in a 2015 study published in the journal Vaccine.

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The three co-authors said the scientific expectations are clear: Physical distancing and rising rates of unemployment should lead us to expect increased rates of obesity.

They urge officials to consider what effect COVID-19 containment strategies, such as lockdowns, will have on the public’s metabolic health. With this in mind, they said, counter strategies should be considered to ensure the public remains healthy, happy and active, while staying safe from the coronavirus.