I don’t have to tell you about obesity and its traveling companions such as diabetes. In a blog post I wrote on in February I noted that this is rapidly getting worse (“Can we avoid the Obesularity?” 27 February 2020). Well guess what? The next big progression in our collective BMI is now here!
The BMI epidemic is going to get worse a lot more quickly for two reasons. The first is the global orders to stay at home. The second is declining incomes which will lead people to eat cheaper-calorie food.
Millions of people are staying home. What will they do to occupy themselves there? Probably eat a lot. Cook new dishes. Try new foods. Eat a lot of junk food. In other words, their weight is going to take a sudden turn north.
And will home-stayers do exercise? The vast majority won’t. I know that coz when I run in the morning, I can only count runners and walkers in the single digits over several miles. And I doubt whether they are all surreptitiously running marathons in their apartments and doing pushups in their house. Maybe getting an extra shot of shut eye to wile away those long days without anything to do?
So, here’s the bottom line resulting from staying at home. More food, many more extra calories, and even less exercise than they get on a normal working day, although there’s no more normal here. What that means is everyone is going to add more weight and further deteriorate in their physical fitness, such as it is already.
There’s a second reason that will have an even more dramatic impact on driving higher BMIs. That is declining incomes resulting from unemployment. As this kicks in more people around the world will shift to cheaper and higher-calorie foods.
In the developing countries it is true that this will lead to many people actually getting thinner since there are no calories at all available for them. In the developed countries we will look after those who drop off the income bandwagon, but the flip side is that they will get cheap and nasty calories. So, their BMIs will rise even further.
That means yet another sort of epidemic, in this case an epidemic of rapidly rising BMIs. To go with the covid-19 epidemic. Covid-19 will actually make the BMI epidemic worse. Ultimately the coronavirus will weaken as our immune systems get it under control. But will our newly increased BMIs then go down, back to “normal” again. I doubt it.
Now you might think that this is a little drole. So, we all get a little chubbier and a little more rounded. But as we all know, higher BMIs go in tandem with increased diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis and other nasty stuff. And here’s the kicker; an immune system which is weaker, as it is with diabetes and its associated pathologies.
I’m sure you have noticed that covid-19 tends to fell people with weakened immune systems. In other words, the stay-at-home strategy, necessary as it is, also compromises our body’s ability to confront the coronavirus. So, if and when it then comes again, we will collectively as humans have less immune capacity to address it. What if the new strains are stronger than the one we have now?
That’s not all. There’s no law that says the next pandemic has got to be based on the coronavirus. Maybe the next one is based on an entirely different virus. In which case our immune systems are going to be the last line of defense. So increased BMIs confer a permanent health penalty on all of us; weakened ability to confront new viruses and pathogens.
This doesn’t just affect us Americans. It affects all we humans on the planet. Chinese, Indians, Africans, Europeans etc. It isn’t as if we don’t have enough hazards out there which make any pathogen worse, as I noted in my recent post about how air pollution can be a vector of viral pathogens (“Is Coronavirus Carried by Particles of Air Pollution?” 24 March 2020).
But this is one issue you can tackle yourself without any help from anyone. When you’re at home, eat less. Figure out strategies to help you eat less. Play more games with your family as you do collective intermittent fasting. Make fasting into a game (without starving yourself please and then suing me for causing it). If the chief family cook doesn’t cook a meal, probably the others won’t cook one either.
As for exercise, you can do that too. My local county has decreed that running and walking outside is fine as long as it isn’t in a group. Most jurisdictions don’t put any limit on how much you can walk or run. You can also do indoor exercises that don’t need any equipment. Who needs gyms? You can’t beat free, right?
Doing this is not just for you, yourself. Humans were already in an epidemic even before covid-19, namely the global BMI epidemic. We have to stop two epidemics now, not one. I am personally confident that we will beat the coronavirus epidemic. I’m not so confident about the BMI epidemic though.
In the long run the BMI epidemic might be even more damaging to humans than covid-19.
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