The magazine prominently declares “This is healthy!” on its cover, illustrating visibly obese influencers for the publication’s multi-profile “11 Women Who Prove Wellness Isn’t ‘One Size Fits All.’”
Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death and raises individuals’ risk to complications from COVID-19.
— Tristan Justice (@JusticeTristan) January 4, 2021
“‘Healthy’ can be a loaded word,” the women’s fashion and entertainment magazine opened its article. “We asked these women to open up about their personal journeys to reclaim ‘healthy’ as their own.” The story highlights several women of diverse body types and lifestyles each chronicling turbulent relationships with their own image.
“Plus-size people often feel like they can’t be part of the wellness space,” complains Instagram star Callie Thorpe, who boasts 250,000 followers on the platform. “We are trolled for being fat, then can feel excluded from exercise because our bodies don’t fit the narrative.”
Thorpe’s rejection, while unfortunate and felt by millions more, has now led to the escalation of promoting unhealthy standards to cope with cultural stigmas associated with obesity. This activism is a dangerous trend bearing poisonous fruit in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, in which obesity has shown to raise people’s risk profiles to complications from COVID-19.
“Since the pandemic began,” Science Magazine reported in September, “dozens of studies have reported that many of the sickest COVID-19 patients have been people with obesity.” According to one study out in August cited by the flagship journal, overweight patients who contracted COVID-19 were 113 percent more likely to land in the hospital than patients of a healthy weight. Obese patients were 74 percent more likely to end up in intensive care and were 48 percent more likely to die.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 42 percent of Americans qualified as “obese” in 2017-2018, a condition often responsible as the root cause for conditions leading to premature death such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, several of which account for the most significant underlying conditions for people susceptible to COVID-19. More than 70 percent of adults 20 years old and older are overweight.
Dr. Tim Logemann of the Wausau Aspirus Hospital Cardiologist and Obesity Treatment Program in Wisconsin told The Federalist the coronavirus death toll, which exceeds 350,000, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, would be far lower absent the obesity epidemic.
While COVID-19 is a disease of inflammation, Logemann said, cells in obese people are already inflamed, lowering the body’s immune response even in the absence of pre-existing conditions that routinely lead to severe or even lethal complications from the coronavirus. When mechanical problems that arise from obesity, such as difficulty breathing, are combined with a virus that impairs a person’s respiratory function, the level of risk rises even higher.
“Young people would see much less deaths,” Logemann said, if the nation were at a healthier weight.
Cosmopolitan Magazine’s cover, however, is only throwing fuel on the fire of the concurrent epidemic in the name of feel-good activism. Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, obesity routinely ranked as a leading cause of preventable death. According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.8 million deaths every year can be attributed to the deceased being overweight or obese, a much higher figure than total COVID-19 deaths. As of this writing, the novel coronavirus has taken fewer than 1.85 million since its first detection, absent unreported numbers from authoritarian regimes.
“I don’t think body-shaming helps,” Logemann stressed. “I also don’t think saying being 100 pounds overweight is healthy, because it’s not.”
Logemann acknowledged the current “eat less, exercise more” approach to tackling the obesity epidemic hasn’t been working, emphasizing instead to treat obesity as a disease. “We need to understand that the current food supply is making most of us sick, and obesity is a disease,” Logemann said. Rather than rejecting the idea that obesity is harmful, Americans instead need to learn how to eat better and live healthy lifestyles.