Americans are overweight. It’s an observation obvious to anyone taking the measure of fellow citizens trekking through a U.S. airport, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or strolling through a city park. In a nation turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic, precious little is uttered about the danger those extra pounds represent in the battle against the virus. Rather than leading a shame campaign against the unvaccinated, President Joe Biden should be reminding Americans that the most proactive defense against severe infection or death is a return to a healthy weight.
With the pandemic trampling daily routines of activity, diet, and sleep habits, 42 percent of U.S. adults have reported undesired weight gain, according to the American Psychological Association. The average gain of 29 pounds has earned the United States the dubious distinction of being the 12th fattest nation on the planet, says the World Population Review, with 36 percent of its adult population not simply overweight but extra-large.
Obesity has long been linked to various diseases, including diabetes, heart failure, and cancer. It’s the leading cause of preventable death and, ominously, it is now closely associated with coronavirus death.
In a study of COVID-19 patients hospitalized between March and December 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 73 percent who succumbed to the virus were overweight. They included 46 percent who were classified as obese — rating a body-mass index of 30 or higher. For a man and woman of average height, a weight of at least 203 and 174 pounds, respectively, fall in that category.
By comparison, 23 percent of patients with a healthy weight — up to 162 and 140 pounds for the average man and woman, respectively, died from COVID-19 complications. Only 3 percent of underweight individuals — those below 128 and 110 pounds — failed to survive.
The conclusion is clear: Extra pounds are extra rounds in the chamber when playing Russian roulette with the coronavirus, and a healthy weight beats the odds. Americans who intend to remain among the living should act accordingly.
Mr. Biden should do his part to encourage them. Rather than browbeating Americans — including those with natural immunity from a previous bout of COVID-19 – to get vaxxed, he should challenge all but the disabled and infirm to get off the couch, pick up a step-counting device and pound out 10,000 strides a day.
With TV cameras in tow, a brisk, daily, presidential constitutional along the National Mall adjacent to the White House would set a fine example for a portly public. Most voters generally despise his ultra-left-wing policies these days, but his svelte, 78-year-old physique is nothing if not an object of envy.