The pandemic has revealed an elephant in our room that we ignore.
We have avoided this monster through various distracting mechanisms shaped by political agenda.
Why are so many Americans dying, people ask. Why are so many blacks and browns dying of COVID? Why, why, the chorus asks in a comically rhetorical tone.
It’s unequal medical access, it’s racism!
The mainstream mouthpieces of civil society enjoin.
They ignore the real “it’s…” reason.
The simplest cursory review of the past year’s news coverage tells us all we need to know (if we consciously resist the force-fed political agenda). In fact, this very political agenda has proven dangerous because it is a red herring that disguises the risk, the one we refuse to acknowledge because it is not nice to notice.
Americans are obese and POC are even more obese. Obese is tolerably considerate; fat will get you pummeled by the politeness crew.
Almost every news feature about some random Joe Public who was struck down by the virus reveals a commonality: obese, even moderately obese, people do not grapple successfully with the virus. I could cherry pick any link about a person who was “healthy with no underlying conditions” who we then see in an accompanying photograph holding a baby or embracing their spouse, and who invariably carries excess flab and perhaps a bit too much visceral fat. Our acceptance of metabolic syndrome in overlooking what we consider healthy is a sign of diseased self-perception.
COVID-19 is the foe of the old and the slovenly of lifestyle, but it’s more palatable to blame COVID’s deadly wrath on Trump or lack of education and opportunity in the ghetto, but we know what it is. Now, the science of statistics exposes the elephant.
The death rate from COVID-19 is about 10 times higher in countries where half or more of the population is overweight, according to a report by the World Obesity Federation.
The report released on Wednesday titled COVID-19 and Obesity: The 2021 Atlas has shown that being overweight is a “highly significant predictor” of developing complications from contracting COVID-19 such as hospitalisation, intensive care and mechanical ventilation, as well as being a “predictor of death” from the disease.
CNN’s coverage is a little clearer with context.
The team examined mortality data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and found that of 2.5 million Covid-19 deaths reported by the end of February, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is overweight.
In an analysis of data and studies from more than 160 countries, the researchers found that Covid-19 mortality rates increased along with countries’ prevalence of obesity. They note that the link persisted even after adjusting for age and national wealth.
Information collected over the past two decades has also shown that excess bodyweight is linked to worse outcomes in MERS, H1N1 influenza and other influenza-related infections.
The intuitive realization of obesity’s effect on health clashes with the hesitant sensibilities of PC culture where obesity has attained exclusive victimhood identity and thus must be handled delicately, like race and sexual orientation. Simple reference to a group’s putative tendency to be overweight is not acceptable in the social climate. It’s OK to cast Italy or the UK as obese countries even though they rank 81st and 31st respectively on this list while excluding many other less WASPy countries that have higher rates of obesity.
The fat elephant is politically off-limits, so we obscure the beast with culturally acceptable finger-pointing that blames Republicans and racism for problems which implicate the elephant for being an elephant.