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Wausau doctor says high U.S. obesity rate worsens pandemic

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 6:39 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Obesity is the number one health crisis facing the United States right now, according to one doctor in the Wausau area. He said it’s part of the reason why the COVID-19 pandemic is so lethal.

Wausau Aspirus Hospital Cardiologist and Obesity Treatment Program Dr. Tim Logemann said the United States is facing two pandemics right now. The COVID-19 pandemic and the obesity pandemic.

He said only about 20% -30% of Americans are at the weight they should be.

“One way to fight the virus obviously is to hide and don’t get it, wear a mask, stay distant, stay at home. But another way to fight the virus is to harden the target, so if you do get it, you don’t get as sick,” Logemann said.

Between stress eating, less physical activity, and an abundance of convenient, unhealthy food, it’s an unfortunate combination that is leading to America’s obesity problem.

Logemann said obesity is causing COVID-19 to be much worse than it could be.

“I think the people under 65 would be doing a lot better,” Logemann said. “They’d be less likely to be in the hospital, the hospitals would be less stressed. The people over 65, the nursing home patients that’s going to be the same, but these younger people that get it and get really sick, there would be a lot less of them.”

He said right now 40% of people in the U.S. are obese, while 30% of people are overweight, meaning most people are at an unhealthy weight.

People with obesity face risks such as cancer, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

They also have a compromised repertory system, making it harder to breathe and easier for COVID-19 to get in your system.

“If people were to get healthier, less inflammation, less body weight, healthier patients, then the virus would be less effective at making people sick,” Logemann said.

The pandemic has also lead to more stress eating and less physical activity, something YMCA Health and Wellness Director Shannon Ramsey said needs to be avoided.

“People have gone to that ‘well the world is in a pandemic anyway, what’s one more chocolate bar or what’s one more beer here today,’ and unfortunately we can’t think like that because we don’t know how long this is all going to last,” Ramsey said.

She said it’s best to eat smaller meals, stay active, and have a consistent sleep schedule.

“Make sure you’re drinking enough water and also get sleep. Sleep is so important and people forget about that,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey wants to remind people to keep an eye on their diets with winter and the holidays still ahead to help fight obesity in the U.S.

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