Welcome to Debate Club! Please be aware that this is a space for respectful debate, and that your ideas will be challenged here. Please remember to critique the argument, not the author.

Are unhealthy diets making the pandemic worse?

It's my theory that unhealthy diets are making the pandemic worse. The US has the confluence of all the negative factors - poor compliance with the official precautions (vaccines, face masks, and physical distancing), nutritional deficiencies (especially Vitamin D and fiber), excessive junk food consumption, and a high obesity rate.

You'd never expect _Mother Jones_ and _The New York Post_ to agree on anything. Yet BOTH of these publications say that unhealthy diets have been making Americans more vulnerable to COVID-19. Check out these articles:
https://www.motherjones.com/food/2021/01/coronavirus-obesity-mortality-double-up-snap-food-hunger/
https://nypost.com/2020/04/18/americas-junk-food-diet-makes-us-more-vulnerable-to-coronavirus/

The ZOE study has shown that those consuming higher quality diets have been faring better than those with lower quality diets:
https://www.yahoo.com/now/zoe-study-reveals-eating-plant-131300981.html

In my opinion, it's a scandal that the connection between diet quality and better health outcomes in this pandemic was NOT headline news.

Are nutritional deficiencies sacred? Is junk food sacred?

It's been over 2 years since I last ate any junk food or restaurant food. It seems that most people have maintained or increased their junk food consumption since the start of the pandemic.

While I won't avoid junk food forever, I'll be eating substantially less of it in the post-pandemic world than I ever did in the pre-pandemic world. I see in my future brown-bagging and reading menus online ahead of time.
«1

Replies

  • emgracewrites
    emgracewrites Posts: 122 Member
    I feel like all of the studies you posted as proof don’t really prove anything. There are just too many other factors. Case in point: I don’t have the best diet in the world, but I wear a mask / wash hands frequently / got vaccinated and have not gotten the virus in the two years this pandemic has been going on (knock on wood).

    Also, not everyone can afford the time/money needed to maintain a super healthy diet. Example: I know buying fresh vegetables all the time would be healthier, but if my plans change and I don’t end up cooking them when I think I’m going to, I end up throwing them out because they go bad. Frozen or canned vegetables are better for me because of the shelf life and I’m more likely to eat them because it’s less effort to prepare.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,700 Member
    Of course unhealthy people are more likely to get sick, or be sicker when they do get sick.

    Of course habits around nutrition, bodyweight, and fitness are factors that influence how healthy a person is/isn't.

    Of course that general complex of things had some effect on the pandemic.

    That doesn't really seem like a Deep Insight, and I agree with riverside that the idea has gotten quite a lot of attention in the media along the way. (The sites you linked - Mother Jones, NYP, Yahoo - aren't exactly arcane or obscure, y'know? And they're not alone. All those articles are a year plus old, too.)

    Even the fact that obesity was trumpeted as a risk factor for severe disease, from very early on, would be an alarm bell to people willing to hear it, seems like. We saw people arrive here and say they were on MFP to reduce their individual risk of severe Covid, so some heard it. Some of those even succeeded here.

    I have no idea whether "most people have maintained or increased their junk food consumption since the start of the pandemic." Could be. Yup, you get a thumbs up for changing your habits in a positive direction. You aren't the only one, and some people have lived in that neighborhood for quite a while. ZOE study found some to study, eh?

    Even before this, it seems to me that it would take a good bit of willful ignorance to think that a junk-food heavy diet was the most health-promoting choice. Some people do dive into that willful ignorance. Some are aware, but other factors have made it difficult for them to make life changes. (NB, I'm still not sure exactly what "junk food" is. Definitions vary, and some definitions I've seen are IMO pretty stoopid. There are reasonably nutritious choices even at some fast food joints, for example.)

    Sub-par nutrition and overeating have been steadily and loudly publicized as serious health risks for decades, even before the pandemic. The statistically average response has been . . . pretty close to zilch.

    That said, IMO the pandemic would've been pretty devastating in the US even if we were all thin and fit. Somewhat less devastating? Probably. The Yahoo article says "People with the highest quality diet were around 10% less likely to develop COVID-19 than those with the lowest quality diet, and 40% less likely to become severely ill." That's not zero illness.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,700 Member
    I feel like all of the studies you posted as proof don’t really prove anything. There are just too many other factors. Case in point: I don’t have the best diet in the world, but I wear a mask / wash hands frequently / got vaccinated and have not gotten the virus in the two years this pandemic has been going on (knock on wood).

    Also, not everyone can afford the time/money needed to maintain a super healthy diet. Example: I know buying fresh vegetables all the time would be healthier, but if my plans change and I don’t end up cooking them when I think I’m going to, I end up throwing them out because they go bad. Frozen or canned vegetables are better for me because of the shelf life and I’m more likely to eat them because it’s less effort to prepare.

    Actually, the bolded is not the case, IMU, at least not across the board. Frozen veggies can be more nutritious, because they're frozen quite soon after picking. Some canned veggies are also very nutrient dense. Some nutrients degrade in transport, and that applies more to fresh veggies vs. frozen. Yeah, if you buy fresh straight off the farm and eat them quickly, they might have a minor edge, but it's fairly minor.

    Lots of sources with more nuanced info about this, but here's one credible source:

    https://health.clevelandclinic.org/are-fresh-vegetables-healthier-than-frozen-or-canned/

    It's heartbreaking IMO that it's such common idea that healthy (or at least healthier) eating is necessarily more costly or time-consuming. Figuring out how to do it on a budget (time & money) can be time-consuming or confusing at first, sure, and I know not everyone has the energy bandwidth to make a switch, or the access to all the useful food sources.
  • Chef_Barbell
    Chef_Barbell Posts: 6,656 Member
    No.
  • Alatariel75
    Alatariel75 Posts: 17,828 Member
    edited July 24
    The benefits of a healthy diet, and the risks of obesity in respect of covid infections, have been widely publicised. None of this is a secret. I don't know what sort of media coverage that this didn't get that you think would have changed people's minds and habits mid-pandemic (during what is, for a great many people, already one of the greatest periods of upheaval they've experienced). Not to mention that (spreading in very broad generalisations) the demographics with the "worst" diets also tend to be the ones that were worst hit financially during particularly the early stages of the pandemic, and that there were actual legit food shortages.

    I truly don't think adding "overhaul your diet!" to "stay at home! wear a mask! stay 6 feet from others! don't hug family! don't socialise! don't go out unless you need to!" was going to have much of an effect.

    Also, you seem to be implying that improve diet quality = reduce covid risk. The studies showed that obesity was a risk factor. Obesity isn't solved by an overnight diet change after reading a few headlines.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,491 Member
    .
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,488 Member
    I'm by far a "healthy" eater. I eat fast food, junk food, candy, and all the other taboo stuff that "healthy" people avoid. I DO eat well most of the time fulfilling my RDA's and get enough rest. And yet over the whole pandemic, I didn't catch COVID to my knowledge till just recently and it lasted like 4 days (sniffles and cough). So it's NOT how people eat. It's their susceptibility to the symptoms and people who don't usually exercise or just do some basic care of their overall health.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png
  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 6,668 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    Are nutritional deficiencies sacred? Is junk food sacred?

    What is up with you and this question on like every single post you make? Where are you getting this sanctity of junk food bull *kitten*?

    It wasn't some big secret that people with health conditions like obesity and other health conditions linked to obesity were at much greater risk for more negative outcomes from COVID. And it isn't as if health bodies in the US and elsewhere haven't been talking for decades about the risks of poor diets and lack of exercise. People are aware...the people that care are healthy and fit.

    We get it...you're an uber healthy eater...you don't need to get on some high horse every time you post. There are a lot of pretty healthy and fit people on this site you realize?

    Honestly, I was really bored and read all the posts I wanted to read so creeped on her first few posts and it almost sounds like she's jealous people still eat "junk" food and go to restaurants. I'd rather that than judgmental. :)

    But, for what it's worth, my n=1 in this situation was...I'm not the healthiest of eaters and you can rip my cookies and snack cakes from my cold dead hands but I'm also of a healthy weight and I have yet to get covid.

    (The real Ferris Bueller would tell her to live a little and eat a freakin' snack cake. :))
  • claireychn074
    claireychn074 Posts: 874 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    Are nutritional deficiencies sacred? Is junk food sacred?

    What is up with you and this question on like every single post you make? Where are you getting this sanctity of junk food bull *kitten*?

    It wasn't some big secret that people with health conditions like obesity and other health conditions linked to obesity were at much greater risk for more negative outcomes from COVID. And it isn't as if health bodies in the US and elsewhere haven't been talking for decades about the risks of poor diets and lack of exercise. People are aware...the people that care are healthy and fit.

    We get it...you're an uber healthy eater...you don't need to get on some high horse every time you post. There are a lot of pretty healthy and fit people on this site you realize?

    But, for what it's worth, my n=1 in this situation was...I'm not the healthiest of eaters and you can rip my cookies and snack cakes from my cold dead hands but I'm also of a healthy weight

    I’m with you on this: I eat well (lots of fruit and veg, good fats, lean protein etc) but anyone wanting to take my chocolate, or my cheese, better be prepared to fight. 🤣
  • bojaantje3822
    bojaantje3822 Posts: 258 Member
    I eat well and still have a bunch of sugar and stuff and I was cat 3 obese during the entire pandemic and I caught it in February, had a sore throat for 2 days, a cough for 2 days (1 overlapping), and sneezed 5 times. I'm very fit and healthy, just fat. It's nbd.

    In fact, I had my first McDonald's meal in a decade last month. It fit very neatly into my calorie budget. It was literally less than 1/3 of my maintenance calories.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,700 Member
    Sometimes there's a touch of righteous fervor among the recently converted. In certain cases, I wonder if it has a "whistling past the graveyard" component to it.

    Apropos of nothing in this thread, of course. 😉🤣

    Even then, it's not a criticism, just an observation. We've all got our own quirky stuff, y'know? At least I have.
  • glassyo
    glassyo Posts: 6,668 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Sometimes there's a touch of righteous fervor among the recently converted. In certain cases, I wonder if it has a "whistling past the graveyard" component to it.

    Apropos of nothing in this thread, of course. 😉🤣

    Even then, it's not a criticism, just an observation. We've all got our own quirky stuff, y'know? At least I have.

    I was thinking about that, too, but it's been two years. :)

    Absolutely nothing against anyone wanting to eat healthier, obviously... :)
  • paperpudding
    paperpudding Posts: 7,749 Member
    There are a lot of pretty healthy and fit people on this site you realize?

    and I would bet most of us eat at restaruants or cafes or fast food places sometimes and sometimes have foods that are junk or treats or low nutrition high calorie yummies or whatever you want to label them

    Because we understand frequency and portion control rather than Never (although I get that some people make some foods never for them because of trigger issues - but I doubt it is ALL restaraunt/cafe/fast food places/treats forever for many fit healthy people.)
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 25,700 Member
    glassyo wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    Sometimes there's a touch of righteous fervor among the recently converted. In certain cases, I wonder if it has a "whistling past the graveyard" component to it.

    Apropos of nothing in this thread, of course. 😉🤣

    Even then, it's not a criticism, just an observation. We've all got our own quirky stuff, y'know? At least I have.

    I was thinking about that, too, but it's been two years. :)

    Absolutely nothing against anyone wanting to eat healthier, obviously... :)

    Keep in mind, I'm 66. I've been vegetarian since 1974**, as just one illustrative milestone about eating habits. Two years seems like "recent".😉

    ** Not implying that vegetarianism is healthier. I think it isn't. It's just an example length of time I've been doing a defined eating habit that some people have fervor about (and I don't . . . anymore, anyway).