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Scientists warn lockdowns could escalate world’s obesity problem

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“It is likely that more people will turn to these forms of food, as more people lose their jobs and experience economic hardship,” said co-author Michael Bang Petersen, a professor at Aarhus University.

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The scientists also warned that “physical distancing increases anxiety by limiting our ability to socially interact. Feelings of loneliness and isolation, combined with confinement within a home setting, can impact our food behavior and lead us to overeat. This effect is compounded by lower levels of physical activity, as people are urged to work from home and venture out as little as possible.”

Thorkild I.A. Sørensen, the third researcher in the trio, stressed that we don’t understand how a person’s mental health and economic status end up increasing a person’s risk of developing obesity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, 30-35% of Georgia’s adults are obese, meaning their body mass index, or BMI, is 30 or higher. In addition to contributing to high blood pressure and diabetes, obesity can make vaccines less effective.

“Obesity is a serious global problem, and the suboptimal vaccine-induced immune responses observed in the obese population cannot be ignored,” researchers from the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group wrote in a 2015 study published in the journal Vaccine.

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The three co-authors said the scientific expectations are clear: Physical distancing and rising rates of unemployment should lead us to expect increased rates of obesity.

They urge officials to consider what effect COVID-19 containment strategies, such as lockdowns, will have on the public’s metabolic health. With this in mind, they said, counter strategies should be considered to ensure the public remains healthy, happy and active, while staying safe from the coronavirus.

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