The World Obesity Federation said thousands of Covid-19-related deaths could have been prevented if the obesity epidemic were addressed.
Obesity has been associated with an increased risk of contracting severe Covid-19 and dying from disease.
A report from the World Obesity Federation claims that 9 out of 10 deaths linked to Covid-19 occurred in countries with high rates of obesity.
This includes the United Kingdom which has the third highest Covid death rate in the world and the fourth highest obesity rate.
The report, which analyzed obesity rates in countries around the world in addition to deaths related to Covid-19, says the death rate is ten times higher in countries where 50% or more of the population is overweight.
The authors said that 2.2 million deaths out of 2.5 million worldwide occur in countries with high rates of obesity.
They added that countries with low obesity rates do not have high mortality rates, but other factors may play a role as well.
The World Health Organization said the report should act as a “wake-up call” for governments to tackle their obesity problems.
“We now know that being overweight is the next pandemic waiting to happen,” said the author of the report, Dr. Tim Lobstein, senior policy advisor at the World Obesity Federation and visiting professor at the University of Sydney.
Look at countries like Japan and South Korea where Covid-19-related death rates are very low as well as very low levels of obesity in adults. They have prioritized public health through a range of measures, including population weight, and this has paid off in the epidemic.
Governments have been neglecting and ignoring the economic value of a healthy population at their own risk.
For the past decade, they have failed to tackle obesity, even though they have set goals for themselves at UN meetings.
“Covid-19 is the latest infection made worse by weight problems, but the warning signs have been there. We’ve seen them in the past with Mers, H1N1 and other respiratory illnesses.”
“It’s clear that failure to address the root causes of obesity for many decades is responsible for hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths,” said Joanna Ralston, Executive Director of the World Obesity Federation.
Commenting on the report, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said: “This report should serve as a warning to governments around the world.
The relationship between obesity and death rates from Covid-19 is clear and convincing.
“Investing in public health and coordinated international action to address the root causes of obesity is one of the best ways for countries to build health systems’ resilience after a pandemic. We urge all countries to seize this moment.”
“Food trailblazer. Passionate troublemaker. Coffee fanatic. General analyst. Certified creator. Lifelong music expert. Alcohol specialist.”