El Salvador Announces Ad Campaign Telling People To Lose Weight To Fight COVID-19

(Photo by YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Top officials in one country are finally telling its citizens to live a healthy lifestyle to combat COVID-19.

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele shared a new ad campaign Monday which encourages people to exercise, eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight in order to reduce their risk of getting severe COVID-19. The approach contrasts with that of health officials in the United States, who have not emphasized personal health management as a legitimate means of making it through the pandemic.

“A healthy lifestyle also helps to reduce the complications from COVID-19,” the ad says. “Older adults and people with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic illness are the groups at the most risk of mortality.”

“Try following these recommendations: Maintain a healthy and balanced diet to try to hit your ideal weight. Practice outdoor activities to get fresh air and sunlight, something your body needs to produce vitamin D. Drink at least two liters of water each day to keep your kidneys healthy,” the video advised. (RELATED: New York To Begin Reporting COVID-Caused Hospitalizations Separately From Patients Who Just Have COVID)

Obesity has been one of the top risk factors for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, but, unlike in El Salvador, American health officials have shied away from encouraging one of the world’s most obese populations to lose weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 60% of teens hospitalized with COVID-19 have “severe” obesity, and studies show that losing weight is associated with better COVID-19 outcomes.

However, rather than tell Americans to shed some pounds, health officials have opted to encourage things like mask wearing, social distancing, vaccination and staying home from certain gatherings and activities. Some lockdown measures such as school closures have correlated with an increase in childhood obesity happening during the pandemic.