COVID-19, Obesity, and Structural Racism: Understanding the Past and Identifying Solutions for the Future

Cell Metab. 2021 Feb 2;33(2):234-241. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2021.01.010. Epub 2021 Jan 13.


Long-standing systemic inequalities-fueling unequal access to critical resources such as healthcare, housing, education, and employment opportunities-are largely responsible for the significant race disparities in obesity and COVID-19. Because of this legacy, public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impact communities of color, exacerbated by high rates of pre-existing chronic diseases like obesity. Learning from this history is instructive for understanding our present situation and for crafting effective solutions that promote health equity. Critical action is needed now to meaningfully address the disproportionate impact of these major public health problems on Black and Brown populations.

Keywords: COVID-19; legacy of slavery; obesity; structural racism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 / ethnology
  • COVID-19 / pathology*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Health Equity
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Politics
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification