The pandemic has shed a blinding light on too many people the world over on failures to follow the well established scientific principles of personal health and well being.

After old age, obesity is the second-risk factor for death among those who get infected and critically ill with Covid-19. In the U.S. seventy percent of American adults are now overweight, and more than a third are obese.

Two other major risks for Covid, Type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure, are most often the result of excess weight, which in turn reflects unhealthy dietary and exercise habits.

Several people I know packed on a quiet a few pounds of health-robbing body fat in the past year, and not because they lacked the ability to purchase and consume a more nutritious plant-based diet or to exercise regularly inside or outside their homes.

One male friend in his 50s unexpectedly qualified for the Covid vaccine by having an underlying health condition when the doctor found he had become obese since the pandemic began.

A Harris Poll, conducted for the American Psychological Association in late February revealed that  42% of respondents had gained an average of 29 ''pandemic pounds,'' increasing their Covid risk.

Personal Health : [''A diet of highly processed foods cause people to eat more calories than they realize.'']

Livestock production makes a major contribution to global warming, and much of its output ends up as inexpensive, often highly processed  fast foods that can prompt people to overeat and raise their risk of  developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

When calorie-rich foods are and snacks are in the home, they can be hard to resist. To no one's great surprise, smoking rates also rose during the pandemic, introducing yet another risk to Covid susceptibility.

And there's been a run on alcohol beverages. In U.S. National sales of alcohol during one week in March 2020 were 54 percent higher than in the comparable week the year before. The Harris Poll that nearly one adult in four drank more alcohol than usual to cope with pandemic-related stress.

Not only is alcohol a source of nutritionally empty calories, its wanton consumption can result in reckless behavior that also raises susceptibility to Covid.

Well before the pandemic a rise in calorie consumption, Americans were eating significantly more calories each day than they realized, thanks in large part to the ready availability of ultraprocessed foods, especially those that tease, ''you can't eat just one.''

In a brief but carefully designed diet study, Kevin D. Hall and colleagues at the National Institute of Health surreptitiously gave 20 adults diets that were rich in either ultra- processed foods or unprocessed foods matched for calorie, sugar, fat, sodium, fiber and protein content.

Told to eat as much as they wanted, the unsuspecting participants consumed 500 calories a day more on the ultraprocessed diet.

Marion Nestle, professor emerita of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, says, ''This is not a rocket science.'' She does not preach deprivation, only moderation [except perhaps a total ban on soda]

''The world needs a national policy'' and a respective national campaign in every country in the world to help everybody get healthier.''

The World Students Society thanks author Jane E. Brody.


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