The Coronavirus pandemic (at the time of this writing) is now responsible for over 25,000 deaths in the U.S. According to the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html), those who are most vulnerable include our Senior citizens, and those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. U.S. obesity rates are now over 40%, with more than 100 million Americans living with diabetes mellitus, and another 80 million with pre-diabetes (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db360.htm). While it is essential that we obtain a vaccine for this horrible pandemic, is this not a wake-up call moment for our healthcare system to finally emphasize the need for promoting a healthier nation?
Worldwide, the prevalence of obesity in the adult population rose during the last decade and without significant interventions will increase further in the coming decade.
Contributing factors, which are under our control, involve making necessary lifestyle changes. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine over a decade ago (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19667296) demonstrated how adherence to 4 simple behaviors (not smoking, exercising 3.5 hours a week, eating a healthy diet [fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and limited amounts of meat], and maintaining a healthy weight [BMI <30]) could prevent diabetes and heart attacks in the majority of the 23,000 patients studied.
As we wait for effective treatment to prevent those most vulnerable to fall victim to Covid-19, and we follow the CDC guidelines to isolate, social distance, and wear protective masks and gloves to “flatten the curve” of viral spread, should we not also use this opportunity to show the world how we can stay healthy and strengthen our immune system? At least until we encounter the next viral pandemic…