covid-19 (22)

  • The swift and necessary public health response to the covid-19 pandemic has had detrimental consequences for the prevention and management of childhood obesity, a concern critically in need of public health action. Although children are not as severely affected by covid-19 as adults—experiencing fewer or no symptoms—the public health response to mitigate its spread has exacerbated several risk factors for childhood obesity.
  • Extended lockdowns and social distancing measures have increased children’s exposure to obesogenic environments and disrupted their participation in health promoting behaviours.
  • Childhood obesity affects an estimated 50 million girls and 74 million boys worldwide. These children are at greater risk of developing related functional, metabolic, and psychological conditions; experiencing pervasive weight bias and stigma; and having greater healthcare costs.
  • Childhood obesity is strongly correlated with risk of adult obesity and poor health, with considerable social and economic consequences.
  • Despite efforts, no country is on track to meet the targets set out by the World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (ECHO).

To read the article, Reducing risk of childhood obesity in the wake of covid-19

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9390426074?profile=RESIZE_710xKEY FINDINGS

1 Despite vital emergency measures in place, more people are food insecure now than before the pandemic.
• Pre-pandemic, we saw a rising trend in levels of household food insecurity.But Covid-19 has left more people than before struggling to afford or access a nutritious diet. Emergency interventions appear to have prevented the situation from worsening in recent months but turning off the tap of support risks seeing elevated levels of hunger and deprivation becoming the new normal.
• Despite community and voluntary sector groups heroically stepping in to help millions of vulnerable people, our evidence shows too many food insecure households have struggled to access support. Reliance on overstretched food banks and food aid charities is not a sustainable safety net for individuals and families who can't afford a decent diet. 


2 Households with children have been hit hard, with many children still falling through the cracks in support.
• Households with children have consistently found it harder to put food on the table, particularly lone parents, large families, and low-income families. Recently, slight improvements in levels of moderate/severe food insecurity among households with children suggest targeted policy interventions have mitigated a significant deterioration. But children reporting experiences of mild to severe food insecurity had not improved this January (2021) compared to six months ago.
• Free School Meal vouchers have represented a vital lifeline for eligible children and their families during Covid, but a series of issues with provision during school closure left many eligible children unable to rely on a regular, quality meal. Many children not currently eligible for Free School Meals face the daily stress of not knowing where their next meal comes from. An increased number of children reported they or their families visited a food bank
this Christmas compared to during the summer holidays.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
3 Existing support schemes have made a difference, but gaps have meant many people still struggle to eat adequately.

• Covid-19 has deepened the financial hardship faced by lowincome households and has also created a newly vulnerable group who were financially stable pre-Covid. Households are balancing on a financial tightrope, increasing debt and using up savings to survive. With household budgets on a shoestring, the end of the Furlough Scheme and the proposed cut to the £20 uplift to Universal Credit can only increase the challenges faced by individuals and families already struggling to pay their food bills.


4 Covid-19 has dramatically widened inequalities in food security and nutrition.
• Exposure to food insecurity is not equal across all households. Throughout the crisis, BAME communities have consistently encountered disproportionately higher levels of food insecurity compared with white ethnic groups. Comparing our data to before the pandemic, inequality in food insecurity has widened between those from BAME backgrounds and white ethnic groups.
• Adults with disabilities have also consistently been more acutely affected by food insecurity during the pandemic compared with those without disabilities. Our most recent data show people with severe disabilities have five times greater levels of food insecurity than those without.
• Despite undertaking essential work like stocking our grocery shelves, food sector workers have reported much higher levels of food insecurity than the general population.

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Efforts to fight a global surge in acute food insecurity are being stymied in several countries by fighting and blockades that cut off life-saving aid to families on the brink of famine, warn the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) in a new report issued on 30/7/21. Bureaucratic obstacles as well as a lack of funding also hamper the two UN agencies' efforts to provide emergency food assistance and enable farmers to plant at scale and at the right time. This is of grave concern as conflict, the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the climate crisis are expected to drive higher levels of acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hotspots over the next four months, according to the report, as acute food insecurity continues to increase in scale and severity.

Humanitarian access isn't some abstract concept - it means authorities approving paperwork in time so that food can be moved swiftly, it means checkpoints allow trucks to pass and reach their destination, it means humanitarian responders are not targeted, so they are able to carry out their life- and livelihood-saving work," noted Beasley.

  • Communities cut off from aid - The report highlights that conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks - often related to the economic fallout of COVID-19 - will likely remain primary drivers of acute food insecurity for the August-November 2021 period
  • Scale and severity of acute food insecurity deepens - Ethiopia and Madagascar are the world's newest "highest alert" hunger hotspots according to the report.

To read the article: Famine relief blocked by bullets, red tape and lack of funding, warn FAO and WFP as acute food insecurity reaches new highs

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Background

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has led to unprecedented changes in the way we live, particularly for people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. People with pre-existing health conditions have been markedly impacted and, in some instances, left unsupported due to reduced provision of routine healthcare services. People living with obesity (PLWO) are identified as at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection. Currently, there is a paucity of evidence about the impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown on PLWO, including those accessing weight management and bariatric surgery services (WMS).

Methods

543 adults (16–80 years) with obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) were recruited between 14th May and 9th July 2020 through social media advertisements, professional and patient obesity organisations and WMS. Participants completed an online survey regarding the impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown upon, mental health, well-being, health-related behaviours, risk mitigating behaviours, access to WMS and weight stigma.

Findings

During the first COVID-19 lockdown, the majority of PLWO reported deterioration of their mental health and health-related behaviours such as diet, physical activity (PA) and sleep. With 55% reporting an unhealthier diet, 61% reduced PA and 80% worsening of their sleep. Higher depression and lower wellbeing scores were found to associate with the greatest adverse impact upon health-related behaviours. PLWO who were attending WMS prior to the first lockdown reported a greater deterioration of their diet, with nearly 50% reporting worsening of their diet and PA worsening compared to PLWO who were not attending WMS. Most participants took two or more risk mitigating actions (73%). PLWO attending WMS reported reduced access (44%) with insufficient information (49%) from their clinical service providers. The majority of participants reported no change in perceived weight stigma.

Interpretation

This study shows the detrimental impact of the first COVID-19 lockdown on PLWO in relation to health-related behaviours, mental health and access to WMS. Our findings show that PLWO with poor mental health and those attending WMS were most adversely impacted and highlights the need for greater mental health support and continued provision of support from WMS for PLWO during future lockdowns.

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COVID-19 has boosted interest in functional foods that deliver wellbeing benefits like immunity and stress management. But while the pandemic may have accelerated this trend, functional foods are no flash in the pan, experts insisted at FoodNavigator’s Positive Nutrition Digital Summit yesterday.

To read the article click Functional food is no COVID fad: ‘Consumers have fundamentally changed their attitudes to health and wellness’

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The assessment is based on 377 documents covering 62 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the Americas.

The analysis reveals that the dimension of food security that has been most affected is accessibility. Both financial (affordability) and physical access to food have been disrupted, in particular in urban areas and in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). As a result, proximity and convenience have been affected with a degradation in food choice and diversity.

In contrast, there is no clear evidence that the availability of food has been affected beyond some initial disruptions and there is not enough information to provide robust conclusions about the effects of the pandemic on the utilization of food (safety or quality).

Finally, the impact of COVID-19 on the nutritional status of people is still poorly documented but expected to be substantial in the long run.

To download the publication, go here: Impacts of COVID-19 on people’s food security: Foundations for a more resilient food system

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Solving the obesity crisis

Obesity is on the rise; current initiatives and policies aimed at fighting obesity have been insufficient to reverse the trend. The success of tackling the obesity pandemic depends on governments, businesses and civil society working together to fix inadequacies in our food and health systems, focusing on better nutrition and diets for all.

This year, on World Obesity Day, it has never been more important to recognise that improving nutrition and addressing poor diets needs to be at the forefront of collective efforts to tackle obesity. The COVID-19 pandemic is interlinked with the slower, yet no less devastating pandemic of food and nutrition insecurity, obesity, diabetes and other diet-related conditions. The top predictors of severe COVID-19 complications, other than age, are diet-related risks such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. In fact, a recent global analysis suggests that being obese doubles the risk of hospital treatment and increases the risk of dying from Covid by nearly 50 percent.

To read more click here: Solving the obesity crisis

And here: COVID-19 and Obesity: The 2021 Atlas

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The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting food and nutrition security through economic and social systems shocks, food system disruptions and gaps in coverage of essential health and nutrition services. Food systems in low- and middle-income countries must adapt and strengthen food and nutrition security in the wake of COVID-19.

Food insecurity, deteriorations in diet quality, micronutrient deficiencies and other forms of malnutrition stem from fundamental, complex and dynamic changes in our food system9. Despite varying burdens and differential mitigation responses to SARS-CoV-2 across the globe, the impacts on national, regional and local food systems have consistently resulted in job losses, income shortfalls and food shortages.

To read the article, click here: Food systems, diets and nutrition in the wake of COVID-19

 

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Evidence is emerging that vitamin D – and possibly vitamins K and A – might help combat COVID-19. A new study from the University of Bristol published in the journal of the German Chemical Society Angewandte Chemie has shown how they – and other antiviral drugs – might work. The research indicates that these dietary supplements and compounds could bind to the viral spike protein and so might reduce SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. In contrast, cholesterol may increase infectivity, which could explain why having high cholesterol is considered a risk factor for serious disease.

 

To read the article, click here: How vitamins, steroids and potential antivirals might affect SARS-CoV-2

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An England-wide survey of over 5,000 adults found that 80% of people aged over 18 have made the decision to change their lifestyle in 2021.

The survey showed 8 in 10 adults aged over 18 have decided to modify their lifestyle in 2021, with 7 in 10 adults saying that they are motivated to make healthier lifestyle changes due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

To read the post : Seven in 10 adults are motivated to get healthier in 2021 due to COVID-19

 

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"The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life worldwide and presents an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and the world of work. The economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic is devastating: tens of millions of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, currently estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by up to 132 million by the end of the year."

Please follow the link for the article: Impact of COVID-19 on people's livelihoods, their health and our food systems

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Never has the role of chief medical officer (CMO) been under such scrutiny. In a rare interview, England’s CMO Professor Chris Whitty speaks to The BMJ’s editor in chief, Fiona Godlee, about the pandemic and what it’s like to be a physician in Whitehall

This interview was conducted on 28 October and has been edited for length and clarity.

Chris Whitty as the chief medical advisor to the UK government and has played a pivotal role in shaping the country's response to Covid-19 and in this conversation he gives an important insight into managing the risks and how the pandemic will impact us over the winter.


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8060374068?profile=RESIZE_710x Food Standards Scotland’s updated Situation Report – The Scottish Diet: It Needs to Change 2020 highlights the ongoing challenge for people in Scotland to have a healthier diet, including new exploration of the out of home environment, such as food bought ‘on the go’, and from deliveries and takeaways.

It is important to note that this data was captured prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore provides a baseline for further investigation on its impact on diet in Scotland.

The report shows that:

  • There continues to be a lack of progress towards the Scottish dietary goals and improving obesity and diet related poor health
  • Two out of three people in Scotland remain either overweight or obese, with a higher proportion of people living with obesity in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived
  • We continue to buy a lot of discretionary foods and drinks, such as confectionery, cakes, biscuits, pastries, savoury snacks and sugary drinks from shops and supermarkets, and these tend to be heavily promoted
  • The food and drink we purchase from the out of home environment tend to be less healthy, with fried chicken and burger meals and sides among the top takeaway meals and dishes
  • People in Scotland support the food environment providing healthier food to make it easier to choose a healthier diet.

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7928384875?profile=RESIZE_180x180The International Commission for Micro Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) opinion on SARS-CoV-2 & its relationship to food safety: "ICMSF believes that it is highly unlikely that the ingestion of SARS-CoV-2 will result in illness; there is no documented evidence that food is a significant source and/or vehicle for transmission of SARS-CoV-2. It is vital that one differentiates a hazard from a risk, i.e. the mere presence of an infectious agent on food does not necessarily mean that an infection will occur."

“There are no foods that should be considered a risk or warrant consideration as a vector for SARS-CoV-2.” 

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USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has published its annual International Food Security Assessment, which shows that the worldwide coronavirus pandemic has made food security worse.

The annual report determines how much access people in 76 low and middle-income countries have to food. The answer to that question requires tracking incomes, food prices, and other economic factors including agriculture production and market conditions.

“In the 76 low- and middle-income countries examined in the report, the number of people considered food insecure in 2020 was estimated at almost 761 million people or 19.8 percent of the total population. The shock to GDP from COVID-19 is projected to increase the number of food-insecure people by 83.5 million people in 2020 to 844.5 million and increase the share of the population that is food insecure to 22 percent.”

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Bar chart illustrating which foods were most difficult to buy in shops, supermarkets, and online grocery services. Dry goods is the highest, followed by tinned food.

      3 key ways the pandemic impacted access to food 

  1. There was a lack of clarity about how much food people needed to buy.
  2. The pandemic made more people unable to afford food.
  3. Foodservice and hospitality businesses and their suppliers are going to feel the effects of lockdown for years.

EFRA's key recommendations to fix the problem 

1.Ensuring people can afford enough healthy food is the responsibility of multiple Government departments. To bring that work together, the Government should appoint a Minister for Food Security who is empowered to draw together policy across departments on food supply, nutrition and welfare.

2.The Government should work with producers, processors and wholesalers servicing the hospitality and foodservice sector to monitor the health of food and drink suppliers as supply chains restart.

3.The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) should continue to provide £5 million in annual funding to FareShare to redistribute surplus food from farms and across the supply chain to frontline food aid providers for a further two years. This would help those who struggle to afford food as the effects of the pandemic continue, and reduce food waste from farms.

4.Food supply to supermarkets continued because we were able to keep food coming into the country. Future crises could stop this flow and cause more serious problems. The Government has to update its food resilience plans, taking into account how consumer behaviour can disrupt food supply and whether our efficient "just-in-time" supply chains are as resilient as they need to be.

Read summary and full report.

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ICU Nutritional Management – Insights from the frontline

By Dr Timothy Eden, RD with contributions from Shane McAuliffe, RD and edited by Professor Sumantra Ray, RNutr

 Insights from the frontline as NNEdPro Global Innovation Panel (GIP) member Dr Tim Eden RD shares his own experience of the challenges faced in the nutritional management of COVID-19 patients in ICU: https://twitter.com/TimothyEdenRD/status/1245634083012505602 

With a high rate of COVID-19 patients in the overweight/obese category as well as those with Type-2 Diabetes, this can present a significant challenge when estimating and fulfilling these individualised nutritional requirements. Looking specifically at obese patients, there has historically been an attitude of underfeeding in intensive care, but this cohort is equally at risk of becoming malnourished (rapid, significant and unplanned weight loss) when nutritional requirements are not met for prolonged periods, and this can be a predictor of poorer clinical course and outcomes (1). The following narrative is not intended to replace clinical guidelines but is designed to highlight some key aspects relevant to nutritional assessment in ICU when treating patients with COVID-19.

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  Shane McAuliffe and James Bradfield, writing on behalf of the NNEdPro Nutrition and Covid-19 Taskforce, based in Cambridge, help us to separate    fact from fiction. 

 Given the considerable interest in the role of nutrition throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we recently we wrote a piece in the Cambridge         Independent about how to eat well and support your health during such uncertain times. It seems as though the discussion around what to do, and   what not to do has been never-ending, with reports emerging almost daily suggesting new ways to improve health and potentially   combat susceptibility to infection or its consequences. 

  While this push for knowledge has fuelled important scientific research and discussion, it has also inevitably led to debate about what is fact, what is    fiction and what makes up the grey areas between them. In reality, Covid-19 is a new disease and so our understanding of its interactions, including    those with nutrition, are continually evolving.             

                                                                                           
New evidence that can inform policy and practice is being generated, including in our flagship journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. In it, we have established a dedicated Covid-19 special collection to help gather emerging research on the relationship between the virus and nutrition, in order to add to what we currently know. In this article, we will outline what this collection has uncovered about the relationship between nutrition and Covid-19 so far.

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With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of discussion in both print media and online about whether a healthy diet can ‘boost’ the immune system. While unfortunately, there is no evidence for a dietary panacea, there are still a number of diet and lifestyle choices that you can make to help support your health and the health of your family. This is reflected by the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasising in March 2020 that good diet and lifestyle measures all play a role in maintenance of good health and particularly for those without underlying disease conditions this ought to support a healthy immune system.


The points below are a few broad guidelines that are simple to follow and will stand you in good stead over the coming weeks and months. It is also important to note that these should be done alongside current government guidelines to only leave the house for food, health reasons or work (where essential), staying two metres (6ft) away from other people at all times when outside the home and handwashing as per official advice. As more of us are spending more time at home than usual, it provides a good opportunity to dedicate some extra time to cooking and eating well. While this may evoke images of Masterchef-worthy dishes, genius is often contained within simplicity.


Whether cooking for the family or just for one, simple ingredients used in combination can be combined to make a healthy, nutritious meal while also providing the satisfaction in learning a new recipe, trying out new cuisine or bringing one of your all-time favourites back to the table. Here are some top tips to make cooking easier and more accessible.

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