With the pandemic doing its thing and appearing to be coming back for a second go around, check the charts for the recent increases in an alarming number of states, very few people seem to be asking why Americans are being hit so hard.

Underlying conditions are a big part of it and the number one underlying condition most of us have is being overweight, some of us drastically so.

When you’re carrying 250-300 pounds on a body meant to handle 130-180, at the most, all your defenses are geared toward keeping things going despite the sludge of grease and oil chugging through your veins.

When your body gets something it’s never encountered before, like a virus that jumped from bats to humans, it’ll try to fight it off, but it’ll be so worn out from its daily tasks, that it’ll just say forget this, I’m outta here.

And the obesity rates for future generations don’t seem like they’ll be any better. A recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 15.5% of kids aged 10-17 were considered obese nationally. In Tennessee it was even worse, with 20.4% of those 10-17 being obese.

Obesity can be a hard thing to pin down, but most of us know when we see it, to borrow an old phrase. But the way they come up with the numbers can be misleading. The number comes from your body mass index (BMI) and uses a combination of your weight and height to decide if you’re overweight or not. A BMI of 30 or higher means you’re obese.

Going by this measuring stick I’m considered obese. My BMI comes out at 30.1. I can be called a lot of things, most correctly, but obese isn’t one of them.

I was a skinny kid, an overweight teenager (what fun years!), a skinny young adult, eventually got to the heaviest weight of my life in my mid-30s, lost a bunch of weight, kept it off for awhile and now just kind of float around in a 10 pound area that I really don’t like, but I’m old, so eh.

The study said, “Emerging research links obesity with increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including among children. Evidence from other vaccines leads some to predict that a COVID-19 vaccine may be less effective among those with underlying medical conditions, including obesity. The pandemic also exacerbates conditions that put children at risk for obesity. School closures leave millions of children without a regular source of healthy meals or physical activity. And millions of caregivers have lost income or jobs, making it more difficult for families to access or afford healthy foods.”

It’s been a long time since I was in school and I never had kids, so I don’t know what a kid’s life is like nowadays. But I do remember, somewhat, being a kid and I can remember just so much snacking. I’m sure I had meals, but the snacking is what I remember.

Nacho flavored potato chips have always been my main go to snack, but there was always lots of other things. I can remember opening a bag of Funyuns and dipping them in Cheese Wiz as an after-school snack. The thought kind of nauseates me now, but apparently when I was a teenager, I couldn’t get enough of them.

When you’re a kid, working off all those calories is an easy thing. Or least it used to be. Like I said, I don’t have kids, but the ones I see out in the world don’t exactly appear to be the picture of health. Sure, some are still skinny and look like you could twist them like a wet towel, but the ones who don’t look like that? It’s an ongoing joke that the military (and police and fire departments) stare in horror at the 18 and 19-year-olds that waddle in the door and want to join. But there’s a grain of truth in such things and the truth is that we’re getting fatter and fatter as the years go on.

Oh, and you know where the problem mostly lies. Eight of the top 10 states with the fattest kids are in the south. Tennessee is fourth, while Kentucky is first.

Who has the least fat kids? Utah. Go figure.

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