Concerns about the winter wave of Covid-19 are justifiably prompting calls for intensive training. Measures to minimize community transmission and strengthen testing, tracing and isolation programs must begin now if we are to avoid doubling the number of hospital deaths seen in this first wave of 1, the Academy of Medical Sciences said. The NHS is also facing the enormous workload of delaying the treatment of people with cancer; and supporting people struggling with a “long argument”.
The government is aware of the risks of a second wave and has reportedly responded with plans for a weight loss campaign5. It is doubtful if this can produce results in time, but this step is welcome. Associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression, obesity is a leading cause of illness and death. In addition, along with age and ethnicity, it is becoming a key risk factor for covid-19.
The good news is that medicine is finally of the opinion that weight loss and dietary changes can change, as well as prevent some of these obesity-related conditions. At the start BMJIn Nutrition Science and Policy 6, the concept of reversing diabetes went out of control into the mainstream, and long-term advocates of carbohydrate restriction for people with type 2 diabetes met with researchers who showed that energy restriction also works. (Recordings from virtual sessions on bmj.com/Food4Thought20.7) The potential for reducing addiction treatment and improving well-being is enormous.
So does the potential of healthy eating to improve mental health. According to Joseph Firth and colleagues, diets that reduce inflammation and improve the gut microbiome improve mood.
In recognition of the many complexities and uncertainties, a consensus is emerging: we need a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, with less red meat, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods. However, according to Marko Springmann and colleagues, the current global and national guidelines do not have enough impact on health and the environment.
As discussed in BMJ Because our food systems make us sick. 11 Outbreaks of covid-19 in meat processing plants have focused on the meat industry as a driver of acute and chronic diseases. Last month, Monique Tan and colleagues wrote that the food industry should be held partially responsible “not only for the obesity pandemic, but also for the severity of Covid-19 and its devastating consequences.” 13 The government must do more to hold the industry accountable.
Improving what people eat has tremendous potential for improving physical and mental health and reducing the burden on health systems. Reducing the impact of the second wave of covid-19 is the most recent and most pressing cause.
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