The food industry shares the blame for both the obesity pandemic and the severity and consequences of Covid-19, according to an editorial published Thursday in the BMJ.
The authors, who are from Queen Mary University in London, highlight the link between obesity and serious illness and death from Covid-19.
Studies show that for people who were overweight, the risk of critical illness increased by 44% and the risk of death increased by 27%. Studies also showed the risk of both critical illness and the risk of death nearly doubled for people who were obese, the authors wrote.
Obesity also affects immune responses and lessens lung function.
“The Covid-19 outbreak seems to be yet one more health problem exacerbated by the obesity pandemic,” the authors wrote.
Because of this, food industries worldwide must change the way that they are reacting to the pandemic and governments must support healthier food habits, the group argued.
“The food industry has launched campaigns and corporate social responsibility initiatives, often with the thinly veiled tactics using the outbreak as a marketing opportunity,” they wrote.
During the pandemic, there have also been many issues surrounding food, which include an increase in food poverty and disruptions in the supply chain. This may have limited access to fresh food, forcing people to eat more food that is processed or high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.
With 65% to 70% of the United States and United Kingdom populations being overweight or obese, the effects of Covid-19 have made it clear that these changes from the food industry and from governments need to be made, the authors say.