Biden joins the world leaders club at G7 with call for wartime effort against Covid-19

The leaders of the world’s advanced economies will gather Friday on the Cornish coast for the first time since the global coronavirus pandemic began, welcoming President Joe Biden as a new member who arrived here intent on restoring traditional American alliances.

With a pandemic raging in much of the world, a global economy still in shock and threats rising from Russia and China, the Group of 7 summit that formally begins on Friday is shaping up to potentially be one of the most consequential in recent memory.

Biden has ramped up those stakes, framing the moment as one just as momentous as the years during and after World War II, when the US, the United Kingdom and their allies worked together to help the world recover. An army mechanic from that war — Queen Elizabeth II — will join leaders Friday night for a reception.

Already, Biden has used his first trip abroad as President to announce a purchase of new vaccines for the developing world, likening it to American wartime efforts building tanks and airplanes. And he sat down for his first face-to-face meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister in a photo op designed to replicate a historic World War II alliance.

He’s sought to convey a message of unity after four years of fractured alliances under then-President Donald Trump. And while European leaders are sighing with relief at a more traditional US presidency, there remain differences between the leaders.

Skepticism also abounds over the durability of Biden’s message promoting democracy over autocracy. Biden has sought to use his new commitment on vaccines as a sign that democracies can deliver results for the world. But developments back home — including revelations about the Justice Department’s pursuit of Democrats’ data and an impasse in Congress on Biden’s agenda — have undercut his pitch.

On Friday, Biden turns to the full G7 group, which comprises the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the United States.

His day will include the landmark “family photo,” a symbolic moment for a President who has long sought a place in the club of world leaders. Biden’s wife, first lady Jill Biden, said Thursday that her husband had been training for the moment.

“He’s been studying for weeks working up for today,” she said. “He knows most of the leaders that will be here. Joe loves foreign policy. This is his forte.”

Later he’ll meet for closed-door sessions on the global pandemic recovery, the driving topic for leaders urgently working to pull their nations from the grips of the worst global health crisis in a generation.

The global economy is up first on the agenda, with the global tax rate and aid for countries in need on the docket. These efforts, the White House said, will “forge a more fair and inclusive global economy” as the world leaders gather in Cornwall.

Biden and the G7 leaders, the White House said, will “discuss ways to forge a more fair, sustainable, and inclusive global economy that meets the unique challenges of our time. President Biden and G7 partners are committed to a global recovery that benefits the middle class and working families at home and around the world.”

The group is expected to announce an endorsement for the global minimum tax of at least 15%, a Biden-led overhaul of the global tax system, after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her finance minister counterparts announced an agreement on the matter earlier this month in London.

On Thursday, Biden framed his announcement that the US was purchasing 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses as a commitment akin to America’s participation in World War II, saying the United States’ values required it to help inoculate the world.

“In times of trouble, Americans reach out to lend a helping hand. That’s who we are,” Biden said, describing his vaccine announcement as “historic” and citing the tragedies of the pandemic in the US along with the government’s “Herculean effort” to recover.

“America will be the arsenal of vaccines in our fight against Covid-19, just as America was the arsenal of democracy during World War II,” he said, harkening later to tanks and planes built near the Pfizer plant in Michigan during the war. “Now a new generation of American men and women … are committing today’s latest technology to build a new arsenal.”

The United Kingdom is an old ally, including during the war, and Biden has sought to underscore those historic ties during his time here.

He and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have sought to replicate the historic alliance between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill by signing a new version of the Atlantic Charter, a document signed after the war in an attempt to shape the new world order.

The new document did not mention Russia or China by name but did mention persistent issues emanating from those countries, including disinformation campaigns and election meddling.

“It’s been 80 years since the last one, it’s about time that it gets refreshed,” a senior administration official said ahead of the signing, which came during Biden’s one-on-one talks with Johnson in Cornwall. “The original really outlined what the postwar world order could and should look like; this new charter will make clear what the coming decades of the 21st century can and should look like.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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The pandemic changed the way we ate and shopped — not always for the better

The pandemic changed the way we ate and shopped — not always for the better


FILE – In this May 23, 2011 file photo, consumer Sonia Romero shops for tomatoes at a Superior Grocers store in Los Angeles. As food costs continue rising, many grocery shoppers are seeking new ways to cut costs. After you’ve tried every store brand and linked, scanned and clipped every coupon in sight, what about buying in bulk? (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)


(CNN) — Covid-19 affected our lives in so many ways, including how we ate and shopped. The changes were not always for the better, according to a series of reports presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nutrition.

Increase in junk food intake

An analysis by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some of us increased our consumption of unhealthy snacks and desserts, including chips, cookies and ice cream, while also guzzling more sugary drinks such as sweetened coffee and teas, regular sodas, fruit drinks, and sports or energy drinks.

Over a third (36%) of the nearly 4,000 Americans who were surveyed in June 2020 reported sometimes consuming more unhealthy snacks and desserts than before the pandemic, while 22% said they sometimes drank sugary drinks.

However, 16% said they ate snacks and sweets often or always, while 10% said the same of sugary beverages. People who reported consuming the most unhealthy foods and drinks were more likely to identify as Hispanic or Black and be younger than age 65, obese, female, and of lower income and education levels.

The same survey also asked about food availability and safety. Nearly 6 in 10 people — predominately lower-income, unemployed, Black or Hispanic adults — said they were worried about not being able to obtain food at nearby stores or were concerned they might catch Covid-19 from food. Early fears that Covid-19 could be spread via food packaging were quickly discounted by scientists.

These findings “highlight the importance of strategies and communications that reduce fears and prevent unintended negative behaviors,” such as food hoarding and panic buying, said dietitian Brianna Dumas, a fellow in the CDC’s Research Participation Program, in an abstract.

In addition, public health officials should stress “consumer awareness of food access options during emergencies, including promotion of hunger safety net programs, especially among disproportionately affected groups,” Dumas said.

A drop in healthy foods

Another study analyzed the diets of more than 2,000 Americans before and during the pandemic and found a decrease in the consumption of healthy foods, including vegetables and whole grains, during the past year.

“This decrease was the most pronounced among women, black and Latino study participants, and participants who gained at least five pounds or more since 2018,” said Caroline Um, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Cancer Society, in a statement.

Um plans to follow study participants to understand how their diets might continue to change. Other studies will investigate which factors, such as mental health or financial stressors, might be involved in the change in eating behaviors.

Kids gained weight

Nearly 30% of 433 parents surveyed by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University said their child had gained an average of 9.6 pounds in the months between May and September of 2020.

Parents of children between 5 and 18 years old were questioned before the pandemic and again in May and September of 2020 about their concerns regarding their child’s weight.

Families who said their child gained weight during that time period were concerned about that trend and attempted to monitor and restrict their child’s eating habits in both May and September. However, in families where children did not gain weight, parents were initially concerned and monitored their child’s food intake in May, but had stopped doing so by September.

Further research is needed to investigate and target the “different behavioral, societal, environmental, and psychosocial factors” that might contribute to weight gain among children and adolescents, wrote Melanie Bean, an associate professor of pediatrics and co-director of the Healthy Lifestyles Center at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, in an abstract.

Teasing people about their weight

Another study presented at the conference looked at the impact on children when family members teased them or made other critical comments about their weight. Researchers from Tufts University found that exposure to negative family comments about weight “as little as 3 times per month was significantly associated with moderate to high levels of weight bias internalization,” according to the study.

Prior research has shown that when children and adults experience weight stigma and internalize it, that itself can predict weight gain.

“A common perception is that a little shame or stigma might motivate people to lose weight, but that is not what we see in research,” Rebecca Puhl, deputy director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, told CNN in a prior interview.

“In fact, when people experience weight stigma, this actually contributes to unhealthy eating behaviors, lower physical activity and weight gain,” Puhl said. “Our studies show that when parents shift the conversation to healthy behaviors, that tends to be much more effective.

“The focus isn’t on the number on the weight scale, but on the whole family eating fruits and vegetables, replacing soda with water, getting daily physical activity,” she added.

Online grocery shopping

A study done in the early days of the pandemic — March and April of 2020 — found that a third of the nearly 18,000 households surveyed said they were shopping online for groceries, and, of those, 60% said they planned to continue to do so after the pandemic passed.

Their top reasons? Over 80% said it was to “avoid public germs and Covid-19,” while 44% wanted to “take advantage of the convenience,” according to Shu Wen Ng, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Higher food prices in areas with higher restrictions

Researchers from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy analyzed retail prices for food and other consumer goods in 133 counties in the United States and compared them to the levels of Covid-19 restrictions imposed by local governments.
Results showed that a higher level of government restrictions during the pandemic was associated with higher food prices, but did not affect the cost of other consumer goods.