Eat, sit, die

The waves of Covid-19 deaths have ended, but the disease rolls on, killing hundreds of people in the U.S. every day and many of them have been vaccinated/Worldometer graphic

With the vaccinated but unfit continuing to die from Covid-19 at a significant rate, isn’t it about time someone asked how many lives might have been saved if political leaders had spent even half the effort advising people to start exercising and get their weight down to normal instead of spending so much time hectoring them to get vaccinated?

Where things stand today, the whole pandemic wreaks of the major flaw in Western medicine, the disregard for evolutionary realities in favor of a search for magic-bullet medicines.

Our species spent hundreds of thousands of years evolving as an animal constantly on the move. Natural selection invariably favors the fit, and the human immune system evolved in lockstep with this reality.

We know this from studies conducted in the here and now to track immunosenescence, the natural decay of the immune system which is part of our death programming. And though we might not like to accept this idea, we are programmed to die just like every other living thing on this planet because the planetary ecosystem revolves around death and life equally.

When and how we die depends to a significant degree on luck, but there are things we can do to improve the odds. Many of the deaths from what we have come to call “accidents” are avoidable because most accidents aren’t accidents at all; they are instead the simple consequences of people making bad decisions.

Likewise, many of the diseases regularly killing people before the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged to drive the Covid-19 pandemic had already been linked to the Western world’s ongoing epidemics of obesity, loss of fitness or both, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and some physicians have been pointing out for years.

We were warned

This link between disease, age and immunosenescence was well established before the pandemic began.

“…Many protective immune responses are impaired in old age, leading to an increased risk of infection,” researchers reported in the peer-reviewed journal of Aging Clinical and Experimental Research in 2014. “Recent studies have suggested that endurance training in later life is associated with a lesser age-related decline in certain aspects of circulating T cell function and related cytokine production. It is important that the dose of physical activity needed to optimize immune function be defined more clearly at various points during the aging process both in females and males in order to optimize the immune function and to prevent any rise in adverse effects of exercise on the elderly population.”

By now, everyone should be familiar with T cells – the natural frontline defense against new infectious diseases such as SARS-CoV-2 – and the nature of the majority of those dead of Covid-19. At this point, according to the latest CDC data, 63 percent of the more than 1 million dead in the U.S. were age 65 or older.

These were people whose immune systems were destined to be suffering from natural decay no matter what they did, but some were in greater states of decay than others due to the lack of exercise and/or obesity. And a significant share of the 29 percent of the dead aged 50 to 64, according to CDC data, were suffering from chronic illnesses, many of which were in turn tied to lack of fitness and/or obesity, which often lead to what is now being called “metabolic syndrome.”

The connection between basic physical fitness and deaths from Covid-19 has been known since early in the pandemic. Researchers in the United Kingdom using data from more than 400,000 Brits with files in that country’s Biobank were reporting on the protective benefits of exercise way back in the summer of 2020 as the pandemic was just beginning.

They found a direct link between walking pace, a simple measure of fitness, and death. Obesity, they noted, was a Covid-19 risk factor, but lack of fitness even more so.

“Compared to normal-weight individuals,” they reported, “the adjusted odds ratio (OR) for severe Covid-19 in those with obesity was 1.49. Compared to those with a brisk walking pace, the OR in slow walkers was 1.84.

“Slow walkers had the highest risk of severe Covid-19 regardless of obesity status. For example, compared to normal weight brisk walkers, the odds of severe COVID-19 in obese brisk walkers was 1.39, whereas the odds in normal weight slow walkers was 2.48.”

In other words, and in simple English, lack of fitness more than doubled one’s odds of suffering severe Covid-19. Their pre-vaccine research showed fitnesses to be almost as protective against severe Covid-19 as the vaccines that were eventually to come.

Those vaccines only further lowered the risks of Covid-19 for the fit, but vaccinated people are continuing to die, and they have something in common with most of the people dead since the pandemic began: lack of fitness.

Researchers in Tunisia, reporting in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Infectious Diseases late last month, noted the parallels between the vaccinated dead of Covid-19 now and the many who died before vaccines became available.

“Our current study presents multiple valuable Covid-19-related associations in the group of vaccinated Covid-19 patients during the study period,” they wrote. “First, critical Covid-19 disease was noticed in older age groups regardless of vaccination status. Second, the severe or critical cases rate of 35 percent and 16 percent was significantly higher among males in the age classes 60–74 years and 75 years or older, respectively, than female participants although the percentage of fully vaccinated patients was higher in males than females in these categories of age. Findings in the literature indicated that the male gender is a risk factor for serious Covid-19 disease that is explained by the differences in immunity response, the role of sex hormones, and gender-related behavior.”

Human males, as with the males of most other mammalian species, invariably die at younger ages than females. Wildlife ecologists who published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science in 2020 reported that after examining “age-specific mortality estimates for 134 populations of 101 species spanning the wide diversity of orders existing in mammals,” they “found that females have on average an adult median lifespan 18.6 percent longer than males in wild mammals.”

They could not, however, determine if the earlier deaths of males were due to more rapid aging or higher rates of natural mortality. The gender relationships are complicated. In Alaska, for instance, male moose sometimes die while jousting for the chance to breed females, or expend so much energy during fall, mating-season battles that they become vulnerable to death from starvation in a severe winter. 

A comfortable world

Death from starvation, once common for our species, is now rare among humans living in First World countries, but the so-called “sedentary lifestyle” that has accompanied our ever-easier lives has been causing increasing numbers of deaths for decades. 

A meta-analysis of “13 studies of sitting time and activity levels…found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to that posed by obesity and smoking,” according to the Mayo Clinic. 

The development of auto-centric cities started this shift to increased sitting time that then ballooned with the arrival of television and exploded in the Information Age as video games and internet access became widely available.

A 2019 study of sitting time in the U.S. concluded that the total time spent sitting increased about an hour per day from 2007 to 2016 with adolescents by that point spending 8.2 hours per day seated and adults 6.4 hours.

Despite pre-pandemic warnings from the CDC that Americans sit too much, there are no indications that sedentary activity has decreased. The pandemic appears to have only increased the time people spend sitting.

A meta-analysis of studies looking at sitting times from the start of the pandemic through mid-2021 concluded that children increased their sedentary time by 159.5 minutes (more than two and a half hours) per day, adults by 126.9 minutes (more than two hours) per day, and older adults by 45 minutes per day.

“Moreover,” added researchers who published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “increases in sedentary time as a result of COVID-19 restrictions were weakly, but significantly, correlated to poorer qualify of life, global mental health, depression, and likelihood of seizures. Therefore, as restrictions ease there should be a focus on re-engaging everybody with physical activity and encouraging the breaking up of prolonged sedentary periods to improve both physical and mental well-being.”

“Re-engaging everybody with physical activity?” That might suggest people were engaged before the pandemic. Most weren’t. Most aren’t. And no one in power wants to tell them what they need to hear.

On the right, any effort to make communities more walkable and/or bikeable to get people moving is seen as an assault on the automobiles that built America, and on the idea that everyone should have the freedom to drive everywhere all the time and preferably at a high rate of speed.

On the left, the social warriors have embraced “fat acceptance” even as fat is destroying the quality of people’s lives on the way to leading them toward an early grave.

Thus Covid-19 appears destined to become just another of those common diseases that prey heavily on those with metabolic syndrome, and it’s not like anyone in the medical community is unaware. Take it from Pfizer, which when it isn’t pushing its vaccine is pushing its anti-viral drug – Paxlovid – with the warning that:

“Covid-19. Some people get it, and some people can get it bad. And for those who do get it bad, it may be because they have a high risk factor such as heart disease, diabetes, being overweight, ashtma or smoking. Even if symptoms feel mild, these factors can increase your risk of Covid-19 turning severe. So if you’re at high risk and test positive, don’t wait. Ask your healthcare provider right away if an authorized oral treatment is right for you.” 

God forbid anyone would tell Americans to get up and get moving to break free of those high-risk factors or prevent them from developing.


23 replies »

  1. Our culture/society has become like Rome in it’s last years, decadant/self-indulgent.
    Case in point: majority of passenger vehicles sold in US, are SUV models, while rest of world keeps buying smaller cars. Yet, American drivers complain about price of gas at pump, while averaging below 30 mpg. Does a person actually need a Chev Suburban SUV (25
    mpg, $65K) to drive around LA, Phoenix or Dallas?
    Our country has become overly entitled, arrogant & self-serving. Drive has much as you wish, eat as much & spend as much. No wonder we have multiple health issues across the board.
    Responsibility to family, neighbors & society at large is no longer a top priority. Our communities no longer have support, due to political infighting among factions.
    We are the reason we are in moral decline, get a grip and get involved.

  2. Hiking is a good remedy. Generally speaking, you’re less exposed, burning calories and having a fine time until the eventual bear encounter. My wife and I usually tally 600 hiking-miles per year. So far, so good, although I am sitting here writing this on an iPad. Time to get moving! 😊

  3. They are not mutually exclusive-One can maintain a healthy lifestyle and/or get in “shape” while taking advantage of basic medical services like vaccination and yearly blood work if warranted.

    • You left out an important modifier. They are not NECESSARILY mutually exclusive. There appear to be a lot of people in this country who think getting an annual checkup and getting vaccinated is all there is to that “healthy lifestyle.” Those numbers how much time we spending sitting are scary.

  4. Mr Medred,
    I nominate you for a humanities journalism award . You should find a way to boost this article on twitter or something .

    From what you indicate fitness is extremely imperative and Covid “vaccine” wasn’t very effective .

    Interesting that the vaccinated are dying of covid at higher rates than the unvaccinated now . I wonder how the equation would look if you added in adverse reaction deaths and unexpected above base line deaths associated with hearts and reactivated cancer.
    Not to mention suicide , job losses , financial damage, cultural disruption, child education slumps, broken families , and cultural division.

    Don’t get me started on known purposeful disinformation and incompetence misinformation.

    Looks like a human rights humanitarian catastrophe to me .

    Western medicine and hubris indeed.

    • Feel free to Twitter it away. I am not a big Twitter fan. It’s too much like barroom arguments, which tend to be pointless.

      Western medicine, for better or worse, sees itself in the business of “saving” people when it should be a lot more focused on helping people save themselves. The medical profession suffers from something similar to “rescue fever,” ( which has been known to get rescuers killed.

      And yes, the early responses to the pandemic have resulted in all kinds of intended consequences, some of which continue to ripple.

    • Speaking of disinformation and misinformation, “the vaccinated are dying of covid at higher rates than the unvaccinated” where’d you get this dis/misinformation from?

      • DPR,
        No worries I did, hence my questioning where you got the dis/misinformation from. I was just curious if you were intentionally lying or simply repeating false information since you obviously didn’t look it up before you posted it.

      • Steve o – stop gaslighting.
        Your dishonesty shines bright. You didn’t even know there was a difference between disinformation and misinformation until I explained it to you.
        You will find that currently fox cnn msnbc msn reuters and more have written articles detailing the fact currently (this fall early winter ) more vaccinated people are dying of covid than unvaccinated. Those are statistic facts . ( per their sources)

        Now gaslight elsewhere- internet troll.

      • DPR,
        As has been the case since these vaccines were introduced, the unvaccinated make up a disproportionate number of deaths compared to the vaccinated.

        It’s no doubt certainly true that more vaccinated people are dying, that is because more people are vaccinated than not…in the US about 70% are vaccinated. The RATE of deaths is still higher among the unvaccinated. Currently the death rate for an unvaccinated person is about 6 times higher than for a vaccinated person. Thankfully the death rate for either group is very small at this point.

        Since we know that death rate is defined as the ratio between deaths and individuals in a specified population during a particular time period it’s easy to show that you are still spreading dis/misinformation.

      • Steve o – glad you walked your nonsense back and explained yourself. Instead of ( he’s lying he’s spreading misinformation/ disinformation ect .
        Now your honesty is better.
        You are defining death rate as ratio of vaccinated vs unvaccinated people controlled for the fact more people are vaccinated. Roughly 85-75% vaccinated? Maybe more now ?
        Last figure i saw was 58% of people dying from covid had been vaccinated. Which factually means more vaccinated people dying of covid. Regardless of how you want to frame it means our jab/ vaccine is not very functional compared to vaccines Americans are used to getting.

        What you also miss is the demographics of who dies with or without the covid vaccine. A
        30 year old doesn’t have a 6 times greater chance of dying from covid without the vaccine.

        Your cherry picked controls of the rate are misleading. ( accidentally I know but foolish)

        If you want to start doing controls and using your preferred definitions rather than a blanket number then just explain yourself rather than slandering another commentator.

        Good job communicating though versus talking bs .
        I commend you .

      • DPR,

        Just to be clear I’m not walking anything back. The death rate is what death rate is. I’m not defining it, it is already defined. Once again, death rate is defined as the ratio between deaths and individuals in a specified population during a particular time period. It’s simple math.

        In this case vaccinated vs unvaccinated and the 6 times higher death rate figure for unvaccinated is for all ages…the specified population is are you vaccinated or not. I’m sure there are various groups that it is higher or lower for but on a population wide basis the unvaccinated are still dying at a disproportionate rate compared to the vaccinated, this hasn’t changed.

        Put another way in a population level representative group of 100,000 vaccinated and a similar population level representative group of 100,000 unvaccinated, more of the unvaccinated will die…currently about six times as many as the vaccinated.

        What you are talking about is the total number of deaths, not the death rate. Yes, a majority of covid deaths are likely among the vaccinated. There are more vaccinated than unvaccinated. Death rate tells us who is more at risk of dying. The elderly are more at risk than the young, the unhealthy are more at risk than the healthy, the unvaccinated are more at risk than the vaccinated.

      • Steve o ,
        I think you know what i meant. The death rate for covid currently is 58% vaccinated 42% unvaccinated among the population as a whole. That means more vaccinated people in general are dying of covid. ( general population death rate)

        The covid death rate amongst the population is 58% vaccinated 42% unvaccinated.

        ( of course there are currently more vaccinated people- anyone knows that so it wasn’t misinformation)

        If you don’t understand what someone says it makes sense to say – what do you mean? What are you basing your death rate on ?

        Therefore it was unreasonable to malign me as spreading disinformation or lie .
        You just didn’t try to understand what was said.
        On the flip side I totally understand what you mean. Your method makes sense based on specific questions such as does a vaccine help at all? No one was debating whether it helped to some degree. That is common old knowledge.
        Yes of course we can refine/ define it based on percentage of vaccinated versus percentage of unvaccinated. To get a refined death rate. Thats fine to . Totally fine but the fact remains rates have changed and it needs to be known that the vaccines are not as functional as to be expected.

        Cherry picking may also demand you look at which individuals are specifically more at risk based on other variables than vaccination . As in who is fit . Who is young . Male female ect.

        Death rates amongst the elderly unfit has increased despite vaccination. Has it increased for young and healthy?
        Your blanket 6x is not accurate from what ive read.

        Don’t have time to discuss with you any further.
        Have a good day.

      • DPR,

        I’m glad that you realize that when you said “the vaccinated are dying of covid at higher rates than the unvaccinated” you were unintentionally spreading misinformation instead of purposefully spreading disinformation. While the vaccinated may be dying in greater numbers than the unvaccinated they are not dying at a higher rate, there are simply way more vaccinated than unvaccinated. The unvaccinated continue to make up a disproportionate number of deaths.

        I understood what you were saying, that’s why I asked you see if you were unintentionally spreading misinformation instead of purposefully spreading disinformation. That’s when I shared the correct information with you, like the definition of death rate which you were using incorrectly.

      • Steve o-
        Stop gaslighting.
        No one was spreading misinformation.
        You were just acting the internet troll pretending the information wasn’t understood.
        You were trying to malign me or else you would have just posted the clarifying details.

        You are a dishonest gas lighter . Now stop .

      • Why is it almost always the gaslighters who are the ones claiming it’s others doing the gaslighting?

        You were demonstrably spreading misinformation…it’s right up there^, or are you now admitting you were spreading disinformation?

    • Imagine the political nightmare in trying to sell that in this country! But we could structure the tax code to provide a break for those who maintain a healthy weight. There is a good economic argument for that, too, but it’s almost certain the fat-acceptance community would freak out.

  5. How dare you use the O – word. Even when O – word is obvious in the huge body mass of some Americans, the word has been label nearly as profane as the F – word. When many doctors fall into the O – word category it makes it tough to effectively speak to being over weight. Better to stick to the denial than use that word.

  6. On the other hand this might be another example of nature’s way of culling out the the unfit. Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the concept of successful reproduction may be in play. Something the planet may need more of.

    • Except that the older people are beyond reproductive age.
      All that natural selection cares about is that you live long enough for your children to reproduce.
      After that, you are beyond the design specs of your body parts. Humans can extend our physical parts and immune system with good maintenance combined with medical procedures.
      We all get culled eventually, but we do have some control over when.

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