There are many reasons why obesity puts people at risk of becoming critically ill from COVID-19

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  • chris de gara says:

    Your article fails to get to the heart of the issue – is it that obesity is associated with multiple comorbidties, each with its own risks. Or is there something (say immune intolerance) that is produced by obesity that is the real problem. The frightening figures of obesity/mortality particularly among black Americans is it really poverty and lack of access to healthcare that is the cause of the mortality. Weight discrimination, inappropriate equipment etc does not go nearly far enough. A quarter to a half of Canadians are obese and have been for many years so hospitals are now better equipped and attitudes to care have changed.
    More research needs to be done to find explanations. For example to the population who undergone successful bariatric procedures have a lower mortality?

  • Kathy Smith says:

    Couldn’t agree more. The negative reaction to, and blaming/shaming of, obese people is one of the last socially acceptable discriminations (bullying?). I worked in an aquatic toxicology research lab for 8 years where I rigidly selected and controlled all environmental variables: age, sex, size, weight, spacing, water temperature, photoperiod, and diet/food for the test subjects – fingerling rainbow trout. The male fingerlings, under identical conditions, quickly exhibited a wide range of changes in weight and girth. Has to be a lot more to this obesity puzzle than move more and eat less. Needs far more research funding.

  • James says:

    What all of this indicates to me is that we (as a society) need to minimize any medical dilemma by addressing obesity head on before it intersects with life and death scenarios or rationing/triaging of treatment.

    We all understand that across a spectrum there are a range of causes for obesity.

    That said, a clear majority of cases can be addressed through changes in society, income, education, and mental and nutritional/diet support.

    The list of policy tools that could be employed is wide ranging, we all know them.

    Limiting portion sizes of sugary drinks, salty snacks, and fast food/quick serve combos.

    Whether by capping sizes in ml; by capping them in calories or by imposing price signals like a sugar tax or some combination of these.

    Whether by offering low-cost bike share options, safe and pleasant walking and cycling options, and free courses to teach basic cycling and cycling safety.

    Whether by increasing social assistance and flexibility around it; or raising minimum wage, or having some variation of basic income.

    Some combination of all of the preceding, combined with proper mental health support, along with dietary/nutritional support, and we can certainly see the amount and severity of obesity decline; hopefully making any discussion about how to ration care moot.

    Its a matter, as with so many things, of mobilizing society, and its various stakeholders to push hard for real solutions.


Allison Daniel


Allison Daniel is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and a journalist in the Certificate in Health Impact program at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health

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