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Mapping One Million COVID-19 Deaths and Unhealthy Lifestyle Behaviors in the United States: Recognizing the Syndemic Pattern and Taking Action


Tragically, the United States (US) surpassed one million documented deaths due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. A convincing association between unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and poorer outcomes associated with COVID-19 infection has already been demonstrated and communicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in public health messaging. The US is experiencing not a pandemic, but a syndemic, specifically an unhealthy lifestyle behaviors-chronic diseases-COVID-19 syndemic. This syndemic has almost certainly significantly contributed to the more than one million deaths the United States has experienced during the pandemic. Decades of a high prevalence of unhealthy lifestyle behaviors laid the foundation for our current unfortunate situation by increasing vulnerability to a novel virus, especially among subgroups who have been historically marginalized. As such, a major pathway to defeating this syndemic is through the promotion of healthy living behaviors for all. Now is the time for action appropriate to meet the demands of a syndemic and a new path forward to a healthier and more equitable future.

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