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  2. Apr 13, 2020

White House Petition: Add Plant-Based Nutrition Expert to Coronavirus Task Force

doctor with vegetables
Photo: Getty Images

As the White House prepares to announce an “opening-our-country” task force, the Physicians Committee is petitioning the White House Coronavirus Task Force to add a plant-based nutrition expert, among other experts, to provide guidance on helping Americans treat hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions that are leading COVID-19 comorbidities.

In New York, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, 56% of those who have died from the virus had hypertension, 37% had diabetes, and 20% had high cholesterol, conditions which a plant-based diet has been shown to help fight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 94% of COVID-19-related U.S. deaths through March 28 occurred in people with one or more underlying health conditions.

The petition emphasizes the greater prevalence of these conditions in African Americans and Hispanics, who are being hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates.

“Despite these stark facts, U.S. health authorities have remained largely silent about underlying conditions. There has been no call to reduce coronavirus mortality by bringing diabetes or blood pressure under better control, or even to stop smoking. … This is in large part because the White House Coronavirus Task Force lacks members with expertise in lung diseases, diabetes, other underlying medical conditions, or the medical and nutritional approaches to these conditions.”

The Physicians Committee is recommending that the Task Force add experts who specialize in treating these conditions with medical and nutrition interventions. The petition also says that the Task Force should immediately and repeatedly direct Americans to take the following three steps, which are detailed in the petition:

  1. Quit smoking and vaping. 
  2. Optimize medications. 
  3. Implement diet changes. 

“We have no time to waste. While Americans practice social distancing and good hygiene, there are additional meaningful actions that they can take instead of waiting for the worst to occur. Quitting smoking, optimizing medication doses, and moving to plant-based diets will ameliorate underlying conditions, and that may influence who lives and who dies. … We therefore request that the Vice President and Secretary immediately add experts on underlying medical conditions, medical treatment options, and plant-based nutrition to the Coronavirus Task Force.”

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