America wasn’t ready for a pandemic when the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus landed on US shores in January 2020, especially in terms of public health.
The national stockpile of medical supplies was full of obsolete and expired equipment. Early testing was a fiasco and medical supply chains remained dependent on foreign sources while lawmakers on Capitol Hill busied themselves with impeaching President Donald Trump over a fabricated scandal. Worst of all, however, was the state of the nation’s physical health to fight an inflammatory virus that would wipe out more than 1 million residents over the next two years.
Two studies released in recent weeks showed how vulnerable Americans were to a new disease that was infecting more than a third of a population already in such poor health.
In late June, researchers from the American Heart Association found that only 1 in 5 US citizens have “optimal heart health” based on the association’s standards represented by the Life’s Essential 8 cardiovascular rating.
The eight essential components of cardiovascular health, as defined by the American Heart Association, include “healthy eating habits, participation in physical activity, avoidance of nicotine, sound sleep, healthy weight, and healthy levels of blood lipids, blood sugar, and blood pressure.”
The authors, published in Circulation, the association’s flagship journal, surveyed more than 23,400 adults and children through national health surveys from 2013 to 2018 and provided a snapshot of the country’s heart health in the years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic Year 2020. Only about 20 percent of the population of all ages has attested to ideal cardiovascular health based on the association’s eight essential standards.
Another Tufts University study released Monday found even less: 1 in 7 adults in the US enjoyed “good cardiometabolic health,” according to data through 2018, just two years before the coronavirus pandemic.
From 1999 to 2018, university researchers examined five components of the health of about 55,000 adults aged 20 and older, including blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, obesity (overweight and obese), and the presence or absence of cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack or stroke. The numbers come from the 10 most recent cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, in which the authors found a sharp decline in the country’s health over nearly 20 years. While only 1 in 3 adults lived within a reasonable weight, by 2018 that number had dropped to 1 in 4. Adults with diabetes or prediabetes also increased. In 1999, just 3 in 5 said they were free of the disease, but in 2018 just 4 in 10 said the same.
“These numbers are startling. It is extremely problematic that in the United States, one of the most affluent nations in the world, fewer than 1 in 15 adults have optimal cardiometabolic health,” said Meghan O’Hearn, graduate student and lead author of the study, in a press release. “We need a complete overhaul of our healthcare system, our food system and our built environment because this is a crisis for everyone, not just a portion of the population.”
dr Tim Logemann, a Wisconsin cardiology and obesity specialist, agreed with O’Hearn’s analysis, emphasizing the nation’s increasing weight as a primary concern, as it underlies nearly all the major health problems plaguing the country.
“Everyone from big agriculture to big food to big medicine and of course big politics are all in the process of fattening America,” Logemann told The Federalist, emphasizing the urgent need for a “grassroots movement toward health.” to reverse course.
“It’s not just getting better because there’s just no reason it’s going to get better,” added Logemann. “Even health care systems make a lot of money treating the complications of obesity. I see no end in sight.”
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 42 percent of the entire country was considered metabolically obese between 2017 and 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation. Nearly 77 percent of adults are considered at least overweight and pass bad habits on to their children, of whom nearly 20 percent are obese between the ages of 2 and 19.
The nationwide obesity crisis shows no sign of slowing down, although the consequences of being overweight continue to increase. In 2021, deaths from diabetes topped a six-figure toll for the second straight year. Obesity played a driving factor.
The number of states where more than a third of the population is considered obese rose from 12 in 2019 to 16 in 2021, according to the CDC. Trends in obesity have only been exacerbated by pandemic lockdowns that encourage sedentary lifestyles offered, ostensibly to protect people from a virus that was killing disproportionately obese Americans.
Tristan Justice is The Federalist’s western correspondent. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured on Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University, where he majored in Political Science and minored in Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @JusticeTristan or contact him at [email protected]