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Living With The Virus Requires Confronting Obesity

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Dr. Anthony Fauci conceded Sunday, more than two years after COVID-19 emerged, that it is time Americans learn to live with the virus.

“We’re not going to eradicate it,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” as the Omicron variant triggers a new wave of pandemic panic. But, Fauci added, “we really need to be prepared” for an Omicron outbreak with “32 or more variants in that very important spike protein of the virus.”

Of course being prepared in Fauci-land means compulsory vaccination, endless mask-wearing and a forever lockdown.

“If normality means exactly the way things were before we had this happen to us,” Fauci said on CNN in March, “I can’t predict that.”

True preparation for a future of endless variants, however, is an urgent and immediate commitment to confronting the underlying epidemic that is obesity, a primary COVID comorbidity.

New variants will always be in the pipeline, popping up as the virus spreads, leading to new vaccine boosters engineered to better protect individuals from the evolving disease.

If we keep pulling back on life with every new variant, however, and demand universal compliance with endemic boosters, we’ll never return to anything that even resembles normalcy, let alone reclaim the virtues of individual liberty or personal responsibility. Americans have become too comfortable with shutting down their neighbors’ lives for the sake of their own risk aversion.

One major way to protect oneself in the COVID era is to maintain a healthy weight, where in the event a variant does emerge that evades vaccine-given immunity, Americans will be in better shape to confront it. Right now, most Americans are not healthy.

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 42 percent of Americans qualified as “obese” in 2017-2018, marking a 31 percent spike since 1999-2000. More than 70 percent of adults 20 years old and older were overweight.

Considering the CDC statistics are now three years old and precede the pandemic, the number of Americans struggling with weight already on an upward trajectory is almost certainly far higher. According to data from the Epic Health Research Network tracking the weight of nearly 47 million patients in the first 14 months of the lockdowns, the average American continued to gain weight.

More than 6 in 10 Americans reported undesired weight gain, according to the American Psychological Association.

“Our population is hugely sick,” said Dr. Tim Logemann of the Wausau Aspirus Hospital Cardiologist and Obesity Treatment Program in Wisconsin. “We don’t really understand health… Health starts with a healthy diet, a healthy lifestyle.”

Logemann told The Federalist it was conceivable Americans would react to new coronavirus variants far differently if Americans maintained a healthy weight, offsetting other comorbidities in the process. Beyond tripling one’s risk of hospitalization from COVID-19, obesity has also been linked to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. In March, CDC data showed nearly 80 percent of those hospitalized with the coronavirus were overweight or obese.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, the big concern was overwhelming the health care system, right?” Logemann said. “And if your population doesn’t get sick and doesn’t end up in the hospital, then they don’t overwhelm the health care system.”

Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy told the Boston Globe in November his research shows “64 percent of all hospitalizations from COVID could have been prevented, if we had a metabolically healthy population, without the rates of obesity and diabetes and hypertension that we have now.”

In other words, the COVID crisis wouldn’t be as much a crisis as if a public health crisis hadn’t already existed. If Americans weren’t so at risk due to widespread obesity, perhaps businesses wouldn’t have been shut down, graduations wouldn’t have been canceled, and overdoses might not have reached records highs. The death toll attributed to coronavirus certainly wouldn’t have eclipsed 778,000 within two years.

“When something like COVID comes along, it just wipes us out,” Logemann told The Federalist. “We’re just set up.”

The western world, said South African Dr. Angelique Coetzee, who was the first to discover the Omicron variant, is already overreacting to the news of its existence even at the poor baseline of public health. The world will continue to overreact so long as it refuses to act on the underlying epidemic.