Why do some people get severe illness and even death with Covid infection, and others develop a mild illness or no symptoms at all? One of the answers to that question is the five associated conditions that we now know lead to severe Covid -19 infections. These five underlying conditions increase the risk for severe Covid-19 and they are highest in counties in the Southeastern United States and in more rural counties and urban areas.
People with one or more of these conditions had hospitalizations that were six times higher, ICU admissions that were 5 times higher and deaths 12 times higher that people without the conditions.
High risk conditions for severe Covid-19:
Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD or Emphysema)
Obesity, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) 30 or greater
Now get this! In the United States the median prevalence of any of these 5 health conditions is 40.7%. Some Counties were over 50% prevalence.
Diabetes - 11.4%
COPD - 6.9%
Heart Disease - 6.8%
CKD - 3.4%
The United States has close to 150,000 deaths from Covid-19 and that number is predicted to increases over the next four weeks. Today we reported 54,448 new cases. This is the time to really take stock of our health infrastructure and personal health. Every one of the conditions listed above is preventable with nutrition and what we eat. We should start with National policies to address food deserts in communities where fresh fruits and vegetables cannot be found and every block has a liquor store and a fast food drive-through. Its shocking to realize so many Americans get their groceries at the Dollar Store. Thirty million children get subsidized school lunches. We could start there and quit serving high fat carbs that are on the outdated "food pyramid".
American school lunch
French School Lunch
In France the school lunch is a vegetable starter, a warm main course served with a side of grains or veggies, cheese and dessert.
Every community has vacant space with weeds and blight. These could be turned into organic community gardens, providing food and education. Community centers should offer free cooking classes for adults and children (with masks and social distancing, of course).
We should think of food as medicine. It starts with brutal acknowledgement of the problem and instituting public policy and funding to start making changes. Not so hard!