View this email in your browser
This Issue
COVID-19 and Obesity
STOP Resources                 
Educators       Providers         Parents


As the United States begins to wind down from the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can begin to take stock of the effects that obesity has had on the outcomes of COVID-19 and the effects of COVID-19 on the prevalence of obesity. In this month’s newsletter, we review what we have learned about both of these impacts.

Effects of Obesity on COVID-19 Outcomes
Early in the pandemic, the CDC recognized that overweight, obesity, and severe obesity were associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness. Among U.S. adults seen for COVID-19 infections between March and December 2020, an elevated BMI was associated with increased risks of both hospitalization and death. Furthermore, numerous global studies have found associations between obesity and increased risks of hospitalization, ICU admission, and mortality due to COVID-19. There are multiple mechanisms by which respiratory infection leads to severe illness in patients with obesity; these include inflammation, hypoventilation syndrome, and decreases in ventilatory capacity. In addition to obesity itself, many obesity-related conditions increase the vulnerability of COVID-19 patients to more severe illness.

Obesity also affects COVID-19 outcomes in children. Among children and adolescents aged 18 years and younger, obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for hospitalization and is associated with a higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness including ICU admission, invasive mechanical ventilation, or death.
On the positive side, physical activity mitigates the risk of severe COVID-19 illness in adults, as shown in the table below. A study of adult patients with COVID-19 diagnoses between January and October of 2020 found that patients who were consistently inactive had a greater risk of hospitalization, admission to the ICU, and death due to COVID-19 compared to patients who were doing some physical activity or met physical activity guidelines.

Source: Table adapted from Sallis et al., 2021

Effects of COVID-19 on Obesity Prevalence
The COVID-19 pandemic has likely increased the prevalence of obesity among both adults and children in the United States. A study of adults in Massachusetts comparing data from before March 1, 2020 to after May 31, 2020 found that a weight gain of > 5% of body weight occurred in 29% of women and 27% of men, and among those who gained > 5% of their body weight, obesity prevalence increased by about 7%. Among pediatric patients, average obesity prevalence increased from 13.7% to 15.4% between 2019 and 2020. As the figure indicates, the investigators found notable disparities by race and ethnicity, with Hispanic and Non-Hispanic Black groups experiencing greater increases in obesity prevalence compared to the Non-Hispanic White group. Systemic racism and social determinants of health increase the susceptibility of communities of color and lower income communities to both obesity and COVID-19.

Source: Data approximated from Jenssen et al., 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased rates of obesity through a variety of mechanisms. Social distancing and lockdown measures have led to fewer opportunities to participate in physical activity, increased sedentary behaviors and screen time, disrupted sleep, increased stress and anxiety, and lowered dietary quality. Declines in self-reported physical activity have coincided with the observed increases in weight gain during the pandemic.
The pandemic has also changed the food environment and increased consumption of ultra-processed foods. At a population level, high rates of unemployment and poverty, disruptions to the food supply chain, and changes in the availability of childcare and community resources have all contributed to food insecurity for many Americans. Early research shows exceptionally high sales of shelf-stable and ultra-processed foods as well as alcohol. Among children school closures likely exacerbated risk factors for weight gain by decreasing opportunities for physical activity, increasing sedentary behavior, and increasing food insecurity with disrupted school meals. Multinational corporations in the food and beverage industry have taken advantage of the pandemic to aggressively market their products and donate ultra-processed food and drinks to vulnerable populations, particularly children and low-income populations. Consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with increased rates of weight gain and obesity.
As new studies on COVID-19 and obesity continue to emerge, vaccination remains critically important in reducing COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Earlier this month, The Obesity Society published a position statement demonstrating that all three COVID-19 vaccines offered in the U.S. are highly efficacious regardless of whether or not recipients have obesity and encouraging adults with obesity to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of people with obesity and people of color to COVID-19 infections. Inequities in opportunities for physical activity and disruptions in the food supply have only served to increase the susceptibility of these populations to COVID-19 infections. Our challenge is to pivot from these observations to identify effective strategies that simultaneously address the vulnerabilities and disparities associated with the pandemic, and the factors that contribute to them.


Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Upcoming Events

Sep: UN Food Systems Summit 2021
Sep 23-26: Overcoming Obesity 2021
Nov 1-3: AICR Research Conference
Nov 1-5: ObesityWeek® 2021

STOP's COVID-19 Fact Sheet
Endocrine Society Congressional Briefing
PeerView Launches New CME Activity
TFAH Releases New Report
Fact Sheet on COVID-19 and Obesity
We recently updated our fact sheet on the connection between COVID-19 and obesity. 

View the fact sheet here.
Endocrine Society Congressional Briefing: Obesity in America
The Endocrine Society held a congressional briefing on June 24 on the issue of obesity, featuring three members of the Endocrine Society who are experts on the issue. They discussed the impact of COVID-19 and health disparities on the obesity epidemic as well as policy options.

View the recording of the briefing here.
STOP Partners with PeerView Insitute on New CME-Certified Activity
The STOP Obesity Alliance has partnered with PeerView Institute for Medical Education to promote their new CME-certified activity: "Demystifying the Role of Incretin-Based Weight Loss Pharmacotherapy: A Patient-Centered Approach to Overcoming Barriers and Addressing Underlying Causes of Obesity." This animated activity uses evidence-based strategies for integrating incretin-based pharmacotherapy into individualized weight loss plans. The activity features Dr. Donna Ryan as the faculty and refers participants to STOP's provider resources such as the Weight Can't Wait guide

"Demystifying the Role of Incretin-Based Weight Loss Pharmacotherapy" is available for healthcare professionals as an online resource and includes the full content of the program, as well as downloadable resources such as Practice Aid tools for reference in the clinic.
Trust for America's Health Releases New Report

Trust for America's Health has released a new report that outlines the role of social determinants and structural racism in America's chronic disease and health disparities crisis and calls for policy interventions to improve health outcomes, control healthcare spending, and create health equity.

The report, Leveraging Evidence-Based Policies to Improve Health, Control Costs, and Create Health Equity, reviews five policy areas: access to healthcare, economic mobility, affordable housing, safe and healthy learning environments for children, and health-promoting excise taxes. The report also includes recommendations for evidence-based policies to improve living conditions and support optimal health.

Read the report here.
United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of our global food architecture, with response measures such as lockdowns reducing access to healthy food and increasing the obesity risk for many vulnerable populations including children. 

In September, UN Secretary-General Guterres will host a UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) with the aim to set a course to radically transform our food systems. Although food systems are only one piece of the obesity puzzle, they are a crucial one. The UNFSS offers an opportunity for all working in obesity to play a part in creating healthier, more just and more sustainable food systems. 

Learn more about the summit here.
Register for Overcoming Obesity 2021  Chicago or DX Conference 
Registration is open, and The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) is so excited to see everyone in person! Attend the Overcoming Obesity 2021 Conference, Sept. 23-26 in Chicago, IL, and earn up to 30 CME/CE. Learn how to apply evidence-based guidelines – including technology advancements in obesity medicine, applying treatment pillars, managing adiposity-related disease, and treating obesity in special populations.
See the full schedule and register here. Can't attend in person? Register for our DX event Oct. 14-23.
Save the Date – AICR Research Conference
The 27th American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Conference will take place November 1-3, 2021 in Leesburg, VA. The AICR Research Conference is a three day summit that brings researchers and health professionals together. This engaging forum focuses on the role lifestyle factors play in cancer risk, diagnosis and outcomes. It affords attendees the opportunity to stay on top of research, and connect with exhibitors and experts in the field. 

More information about the conference, including how to register, can be found here.
ObesityWeek® 2021 Registration Now Open
Looking to connect with your colleagues and learn the latest in obesity science? Attend the 39th Annual Meeting of The Obesity Society (TOS) at ObesityWeek® 2021 Nov. 1-5. Register now for early-bird rates to attend the preeminent international conference for obesity researchers and clinicians. ObesityWeek® 2021 features the latest developments in evidence-based obesity science: cutting-edge basic and clinical research, state-of-the-art treatment and prevention, and the latest efforts in advocacy and public policy – all in a virtual conference format.

Visit for more information and register today.
Copyright © 2021 STOP Obesity Alliance, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp