A Tale of Two Pandemics

Aside from owning a gym, I’m fortunate to work at a reputable academic medical center whose leadership has brilliantly navigated the recent pandemic. As you might expect, COVID-19 has been at the forefront of my mind for the better part of 4 months now. So, when my brother recently suggested I listened to a podcast regarding COVID-19, it took a few days before I finally pressed play while driving to the gym one morning. I’d long been curious about the variability in COVID-19 mortality rates from one country to the next. This podcast provided answers.

If you read my blog yesterday, you learned that about 42% of adults in the United States are obese. This makes the U.S. one of the most obese developed nations in the world. With an overall obesity rate of less than 5%, Japan is one of the least obese developed nations in the world.

Like me, you’re probably wondering how Japan has fared during the pandemic, especially compared to the U.S. As of 6/24, Japan, despite having one of the oldest populations in the world, is reporting only 963 deaths, compared to 120,171 deaths in the U.S. There are numerous factors at play here, but the relationship of obesity to the mortality rate is worth exploring in more detail.

According to a recent study of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York City, if someone is moderately obese, they’re about four times more likely to be hospitalized than someone who is not obese. If someone has severe obesity, they’re about six times more likely to be hospitalized than someone who is not obese. In fact, obesity has a stronger correlation to hospitalization than any other co-morbidity, including cancer and lung disease.

According to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, Cardiologist and Dean at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy,

“About half of all American adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and three in four American adults are overweight or obese. So very few of us are actually healthy, and COVID-19 is basically like pouring gasoline on a smouldering fire.”

Believe it or not, there’s a silver lining. If you’re thinking you need to make a change, you might be surprised to find out how quickly you can change your metabolic health. Per Dr. Mozaffarian,

“People think that if you’re obese, it takes years and years to deal with that and get healthy. But many well-controlled trials have shown that if you’re overweight or obese and have poor metabolic health, and you just change what you eat … within four to six weeks, [there are] dramatic improvements in many metabolic parameters.”

All of us, regardless of our current health and weight, are capable of improving our metabolic health in as little as one month. It sounds so simple, but if you’ve tried to change your eating habits, you know that’s far from the truth.

If you’re ready to make a change, but you need help, let’s talk. Click the link on this page to schedule a free intro.



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