Gingrich’s Two Faces of Obesity

December 15th, 2011 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

Martin Bashir, on MSNBC today, reported on what Newt Gingrich had to say about obesity at a forum in Iowa. Bashir stated,

“For example, take a look at what he said yesterday, when he was invited to discuss brain science but then quickly moved from that scientific specialism to offering his thoughts on the subject of obesity. And as you listen, look for the overwhelming authority in the way he delivers his lines, “I actually don’t think obesity is a problem of money. Obesity is a problem of culture. Obesity is a problem of people to get up and walk. Literally obesity is a problem of getting people to eat less people to eat less junk food and to walk more.” This is quintessential Gingrich – simple, authoritative and utterly wrong. There is not an epidemiologist in the world who will tell you that obesity is a simple problem. There is not a properly-credentialed scientist who will tell you that the answer to obesity is simple to “get up and walk.” Obesity is a multi-factorial issue that is affected by everything from the economic circumstances of a child’s birth to the environment challenges of a place where people can drive but can’t walk. It’s complicated. But not in the world of Newt Gingrich. “Get up and walk.” Wow! And one might have thought that a man, who so clearly resembles King Henry VIII might possess a little humility when it comes to obesity. But not King Newt. He’ll keep executing the truth, even when it’s staring him in the face.” (Emphasis added.)

So, I agree with Bashir that obesity is much more complex and simplistic advice to eat less and exercise more is inadequate. But, as I was Googling around I came across this story of an overweight teenage boy asking Gingrich about the corrupting effect of money and using the Congressional action on making pizza a vegetable as an example. The article clearly empathizes with the boy speaking in public about obesity. Remarkably (and not reported by the MSM) is that Gingrich shares with the boy and the audience a personal perspective, “I think I’ve spent my whole life dealing with a little weight problem. And I concluded that God wanted me to be a raccoon rather than a gazelle, so I sympathize with what you’re dealing with.”  Newt Gingrich | Overweight Teen | Childhood Obesity | The Daily Caller 

So the latter comment was made on December 12th; the Iowa comments were made on December 14th.  So which is it? God’s will or Culture? Pre-destination or personal behavior. Gingrich seem to let himself and the young boy off the hook by invoking God’s will on their behalf while condemning the rest of the world to bad behavior. Can you hold two such diametrically opposite views at the same time? Evidentially, Newt can.

PS. If you would like to understand just how complex weight management is, see Dr. Arya Sharma’s blog on the work of a leading obesity researcher, Rudy Libel. Why is it so Hard to Maintain a Reduced Body Weight? | Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes