COVID-19 kills, its death toll pushing 5 million since January 2020. Yet the public health sector poorly educates the public on lifesaving measures.

It is well known that those with heart disease and diabetes are more likely to die of COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization, 18 million die annually from heart disease and 1.5 million from diabetes. Why isn’t the medical system using this crisis to rally people around proven methods for reducing these diseases — diet and exercise? A healthy diet, including eliminating junk food and sugary beverages, could save millions of lives and billions of health care dollars. Ditto for daily activity.

COVID-19 provides strong incentives for encouraging healthier lifestyles. Yet public health officials never refer to anything more than masks, social distancing and vaccines. These are excellent tactics, but they waste a valuable opportunity to save lives.

Thomas Ballard, RN, ND, Seattle