Food-related diseases pose a major risk for Covid-19. But the US overlooks them. – Community News

Food-related diseases pose a major risk for Covid-19. But the US overlooks them.

Just a few days later, Boris Johnson gave a speech at the Conservative Party Conference alluding to his… anti-obesity campaign by striking a personal chord: “I had a common underlying condition: my friends, I was too fat.” The prime minister also said he had lost 26 pounds since then. He then outlined a vision for Britain’s future with a healthier population, more cycling and walking.

In the United States, the US government still hasn’t sounded the alarm about the link between rampant metabolic disease and increased risk. It was never part of the White House’s coverage of the virus and the set of policies needed to respond to the crisis — something that didn’t change when President Joe Biden took the reins.

“It’s not at the center of the discussion at all,” said Dan Glickman, who was secretary of agriculture during the Clinton administration and is now a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Glickman noted that the country’s leading voices on coronavirus, including Anthony Fauci, are not focusing on underlying conditions and what can be done about it in the long term. Instead, the focus is solely on vaccines, which have been proven to be safe and effective.

“They almost never talk about prevention,” Glickman said. “It’s gone. It’s a huge hole in the discussion about how healthcare relates to Covid and how it relates to preventing disease.”

As the pandemic enters its third year, the link to diet-related illness and the overall vulnerability of the US population is a theme that remains absent at the highest levels of government. The only senior Biden administration official who routinely talks about the matter is Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack — and he brings it up often.

For example, Vilsack, who is serving the role for the second time after eight years under the Obama administration, likes to point out in his speeches that the government now spends more on diabetes treatment than the entire USDA budget, which is about $150. amounts to. billion.

In an interview with POLITICO, Vilsack noted that more than half of the $380 billion annually spent on treating cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes alone is now being raised by the government, including through programs like Medicare. and Medicaid.

Ironically, if you could eliminate those fees, you could afford a $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill. [without pay-fors],” he said.

“It’s an important problem that requires elevation,” Vilsack said. “We’re moving the dials we can move at USDA. However, I think it takes more than that. I think it takes multiple departments focused on this and multiple leaders say this is an issue that needs some attention.” .”


Dealing with diet-related illness was also not the top priority in Congress. For example, there is a bipartisan bill to require Medicare to cover medications and more types of specialists to help treat obesity. The legislation has been enacted repeatedly since 2013, the year the American Medical Association formally recognized obesity as a disease, but hasn’t gained much traction, even as major Covid relief bills passed through Congress.

Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School who is a leading advocate for the bill, said the pandemic has sparked much more interest among lawmakers and staff, but it has yet to materialize. not translated into legislative action.

One of the biggest challenges, she said, is that most people still don’t understand that obesity is a complex disease, not something that can be attributed to or solved by personal choice, and it often requires multidisciplinary treatment that many people don’t have access to. have to. .