Vulnerability to COVID-19 is much greater for Black Americans. This is because of a wide range of factors, including geography, occupation, housing conditions, and access to health care.

Differences in rates of comorbidities – health conditions that increase the risks following infection – are also a significant contributor to racial inequalities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has acted like an x-ray, exposing the breaks in our society on many dimensions. Black Americans especially are on the front lines, disproportionately responsible for providing essential services: saving lives, and risking their own. At the same time, the COVID-19 crisis has exposed many stark inequalities in the health of Americans that existed long before the virus reached our shores. Some light is now being shined on issues that were left in the dark for too long.

The pandemic, combined with the killing of George Floyd has led to a moment of reckoning with the structural inequalities curtailing the life chances – and the lives – of Black Americans. One of these structures is our broken food and nutrition system. Ten diet-related risk factors account for almost one in two deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes—around 1,000 deaths each day.

But it is clear that bolder steps are needed here. Given the growth in chronic diseases, now afflicting more than half the population, and the clear links to diet and nutrition, a radical transformation of our food system is required – encompassing agricultural subsidies, school meals, advertising rules, tax policy, dietary guidelines, and more. If saving thousands of Black lives does not provide enough political will, now more than ever, it is hard to imagine what could.

Read the full article about racism in nutrition systems by Richard V. Reeves and Faith Smith at Brookings.