George Freeman’s claim that the high number of Covid deaths in the UK are due to high obesity rates has been dismissed as “simply not true” by an expert
George Freeman, the newly appointed Secretary of Science, has been accused of scapegoating government inaction by blaming obesity for the high death toll from Covid in the UK.
The minister made the allegation this afternoon on BBC’s World at One trying to explain the high number of deaths in the UK from “high” levels of obesity and other chronic diseases.
When asked if the government should apologize after a scathing report on the country’s handling of the pandemic, he said, “It is too early for an adequate discussion of guilt and guilt.
“This was a biomedical battle for Britain.”
Moderator Sarah Montague interjected: “But our death toll is so much higher than in so many other countries.”
In response, Mr. Freeman said, “Yes, a lot of this actually has to do with the very, very severe, obesity-related, cardiometabolic chronic disease cohort that we have carried for years.
“This is a decade-long public health failure in this country.”
But its declaration of the UK death toll, which has the eighth highest death toll in the world with over 137,000 deaths, has been rejected by a leading expert.
Dr. David Strain, the clinical director of Covid services at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said that I his claim was “simply not true”.
“This comment is at best a scapegoat for government inaction at the start of the pandemic while being very inflammatory against a population with an underlying metabolic disorder,” he said.
“The example to counter this would be Saudi Arabia, which has much higher obesity rates, but a coordinated central response prevented something like the death toll that we saw.”
Saudi Arabia has recorded fewer than 10,000 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic began and has significantly higher obesity rates in both the male and female adult populations.
Just under a third (32 percent) of male and 44 percent of female adults in Saudi Arabia are obese, compared with 28 percent and 30 percent in the United Kingdom, respectively, according to the Global Obesity Observatory.
In addition, separate figures show the UK ranks 33rd in the world for obesity, with 27.8 percent of the adult population classified as obese, while Saudi Arabia ranks 14th at 35.4 percent.
Dr. Simon Clarke, Associate Professor of Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading, denied the minister’s claim.
He wrote on Twitter: “I just heard George Freeman on BBC World at One blame obesity and cardiovascular disease for the UK’s Covid-19 experience.
“This is slippery garbage! Case numbers: Great Britain 8.2 million (68 million inhabitants), Germany 4.3 million (84 million inhabitants) – because so many people were infected, so many people died. “
Obesity has been shown to be a strong risk factor for Covid-19, with several studies suggesting it is linked to an increased risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
This is because obesity weakens the immune system, making the individual susceptible to infectious diseases.
A study examining the association between body mass index (BMI) and the severity of Covid-19 in 6-9 million people in England found that a BMI greater than 23 is associated with increased risks, particularly in Patients under 40 years of age.
The authors stated: “People who are overweight, even without other comorbidities, have a significantly increased risk of being admitted to hospital and intensive care and dying due to Covid-19, especially for younger adults and blacks.”
In March of this year, the World Obesity Federation found that death rates from Covid-19 are ten times higher in countries where more than half of the adult population is classified as overweight.
A person is considered overweight if their BMI exceeds 25 while obesity has a BMI greater than 30.
At the time of the study, it took the UK Covid numbers as an example and said, “The UK has the third highest death rate in the world (184 deaths per 100,000) and the fourth highest prevalence of obesity at 63.7 percent.”
Meanwhile, developed countries like Japan and Taiwan, which have much lower obesity rates, have much lower Covid death rates.