Covid-19 or Eating Disorders… Which has the better claim for a Social Justice Component?

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Recently, the CEO of one eating disorder group stated,  … “ … we just want you to know that our commitment to anti-racism and dismantling systemic oppression in the eating disorder community is ongoing and will continue to permeate every aspect of our work.” [emphasis added] Good Lord.

More facts, tangible evidence, including scientific evidence, exists establishing that Covid-19 is a social justice virus than exists showing eating disorders are a social justice illness let alone systemically oppresses some segment of those who suffer from this deadly disease.

Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, an American physician and immunologist, has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He is generally regarded as the foremost authority on Covid-19. With regard to Covid-19, Dr. Fauci stated the following:

“Social inequalities are among the factors behind why the black community in the United States has “suffered disproportionately” from Covid-19.”

“African-Americans have suffered disproportionately from coronavirus disease. They’ve suffered in that their rate of infection is higher because of the nature of the economic status that many of them find themselves in where they’re outside working, being unable to physically separate.”

“And then when they do get infected, given the social determinants of health which make it for them, have a higher incidence of diseases like hypertension, obesity, diabetes.”

“They are at much greater risk of suffering the deleterious consequences including death.”

If you consider some of the initial statistics, you will see that nationally, African-American deaths from COVID-19 are nearly two times greater than would be expected based on their share of the population. In four states, the rate is three or more times greater.

In 42 states plus Washington D.C., Hispanics/Latinos make up a greater share of confirmed cases than their share of the population. In eight states, it’s more than four times greater. 

A study conducted by NPR finds that in 32 states plus Washington D.C., blacks are dying at rates higher than their proportion of the population. In 21 states, it’s substantially higher, more than 50% above what would be expected. For example, in Wisconsin, at least 141 African Americans have died, representing 27% of all deaths in a state where just 6% of the state’s population is black.

According to Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the Director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at the Yale School of Medicine, “African-Americans have higher rates of underlying conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease, that are linked to more severe cases of COVID-19.”

Nunez-Smith also stated, “They also often have less access to quality health care, and are disproportionately represented in essential frontline jobs  that can’t be done from home, increasing their exposure to the virus.”

Latinos and Hispanics test positive for the coronavirus at rates higher than would be expected for their share of the population in all but one of the 44 jurisdictions that report Hispanic ethnicity data (42 states plus Washington D.C.). The rates are two times higher in 30 states, and over four times higher in eight states. 

The non-partisan group, American Public Media (“APM”) Research Lab recently released new figures and information under the title, “Color of Coronavirus.” This study provided further evidence of the staggering divide in the Covid-19   death rate between black Americans and the rest of the nation. That study found, “Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans.” The study later held, “More than 20,000 African Americans – about one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US – have died from the disease.”

Those grim numbers and statistics paint a picture illustrating the ramifications of long term societal neglect. And if “Social Justice” is defined as “Equal rights, equal opportunities and equal treatment for all,” those forbidding numbers and statistics reflect the results when true, social injustice is present. True social injustice does not exist in a vacuum. The ultimate consequence of social injustice is often a disproportionately higher mortality rate. A direct correlation between social injustice and mortality rates.

To exacerbate the reality of this situation, those persons who attempt to refute those numbers, statistics and talking points are forced to argue against the scientific evidence, facts and logic supporting those numbers. Because scientific research does not support their argument, they must find a way to attack science. And this too, is a problem.

On this issue, Dr. Fauci stated, “One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority.”

He also stated, “It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is. It’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines.” “That’s really a problem.”

Social justice issues inextricably intertwined with a higher mortality rate. Scientific evidence supporting the correlation between the two. Some of the foremost experts in their fields linking the two together. That constitutes direct correlation between social justice issues and adverse consequences of not addressing them. And yet, in the eating disorder community?

And meanwhile, in the Eating Disorder World

In the eating disorder realm, we are facing the antithesis of this reasoning. A very small group of advocates is trying to elevate their voices to become a mighty cacophony of noise. They are attempting to elevate the alleged social injustice encountered mainly by women in larger bodies to “the” ultimate place of prominence in the eating disorder community.

Despite reams of scientific research to the contrary, they claim that eating disorders are social justice issues. It is not enough to say, “Eating disorders are complex medical and psychiatric illnesses that can have serious consequences for health, productivity and relationships. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder), are bio-psycho-social diseases.” That yes, with certain eating disorders, there is absolutely a societal component which must be included and addressed.

Because they have no scientific research supporting their position that eating disorders are social justice issues, they attempt to attack the research community and question the validity of past studies. When the highest mortality rate is shown to be as a result of anorexia nervosa (which is generally not the eating disorder impacted by societal issues), those voices simply attempt to change the narrative, the facts and statistics, hope that no one notices, and when they are called out on their inaccuracies, refuse to issue retractions. They then attempt to silence the voices who support scientific research and accurate numbers. In Dr. Fauci’s words, “ … [it is] inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority.”

To exacerbate this reality, the eating disorder industry universally does not impose any consequences for their reprehensible conduct. There are no ramifications for behavior that is harmful or bullying. The eating disorder industry has enabled this reality and now, must live with the consequences of its own inactivity and acceptance of incompetence and misguided leadership.

Deaths in the black community from Covid-19 are the result of generations of social injustice. The mortality rate, facts, evidence, and scientific research combined demonstrate the serious ramifications of social injustice when a society is hit with a deadly virus.

In the eating disorder realm, those clamoring that eating disorders are social justice issues do not have the higher mortality rate, facts, evidence or scientific research supporting their views. They only have the ability to loudly trumpet their own unsubstantiated, uninformed, and uneducated opinions colored by their extreme political and societal views.

And all the while, the horrific death toll that anorexia nervosa enacts continues unabated.

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