Posts Tagged ‘Newt Gingrich’

Gingrich’s Two Faces of Obesity

December 15th, 2011

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

Gingrich Gets Brain Science Politics Wrong

December 15th, 2011

In a Washington Post blog, Gingrich at University of Iowa: ‘I want to talk to you about brain science’ – Election 2012 – The Washington Post, Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is quoted as saying,  “This (brain science)  is a very big idea in an area that many political leaders won’t attack.” Well, I spent most of the 1990s dealing with neuroscience research funding in Congress and there were many political leaders willing to support (as opposed to “attack”) neuroscience research.

I responded with this comment, “Gingrich has got it all wrong on the politics of neuroscience. In fact, many politicians have embraced it, going back to the 1980s, when the late Congressman Silvio Conte (R-MA), led the efforts on the Appropriations Committee to expand neuroscience research funding, principally at the National Institutes of Health. He also introduced and led enactment by Congress of the Decade of the Brain Resolution which President George Bush (41) signed, declaring the 1990s as “The Decade of the Bran.” There were numerous Congressional briefings and events during the 90s, some sponsored by the Library of Congress, and many by patient and professional groups as well as organizations I was associated with, such as the National Foundation for Brain Research. Congressman Claude Pepper, Senators Pete Domenici, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, and Lowell Weicker were outstanding leaders. Gingrich was not one of them although to be fair he did support expansion of NIH funding overall.”

The blog also had a reference which seemed to indicated that someone was complaining about the lack of action by the FDA to approve anti-obesity drugs. However, the question appeared to pit obesity against neurology. My response, There is a curious reference in the blog, seemingly from a member of the audience, on whether obesity should be stressed over neurology. The question is odd. Obesity is a neuro-endocrine disease and the brain plays a critical, actually the critical, role in regulating body weight. So, one can’t really posit obesity or neurology. This is not to say all treatments have to be neurological. Many, like lap-band or the OTC drug, Alli, do not work on the neurological system.”

As readers have seen, obesity is playing a prominent role in this campaign so far. See Politics. Take the opportunity to comment on news articles such as this one to set the record straight.

Republicans Struggle with Obesity-Related Issues, Mandates

December 13th, 2011

If you are following the debate over health care reform and the Republican presidential race, you know that governmental mandates are a hot issue.

Michele Bachmann (R-MN)  made Texas Governor Rick Perry’s mandate that girls in Texas receive the HPV vaccine a big issue. Michele Bachmann’s mistakes pile up – The Washington Post Now comes a Florida Republican legislator, Larry Metz,  is so opposed to government mandates he has introduced legislation to repeal the state’s requirement for physical education for 6th to 8th graders. Bill would cut physical education mandate –  Newt Gingrich, according to ThinkProgress, has called for government mandated physical education, K through 12, as a way to combat obesity. He also has called for soft drink companies to develop healthy alternatives or have reduced access to the youth market. Gingrich Supported Expanding Federal Physical Education Mandates In 2008 | ThinkProgress

Meanwhile, ThinkProgress quotes Rick Santorum as saying, “If hunger is a problem in America, they why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program? Santorum: We Don’t Need Food Stamps Because Obesity Rates Are So High | ThinkProgress. Well, part of the answer regarding the food stamp program, now called SNAP, can be found at SNAP to Health! | Snap To Health


June 10th, 2011

We are launching a new page tracking obesity in politics. This is more than just celebrity weight loss. How public figures address their own, their opponent’s and our obesities, can affect the extent to which they feel free or mandated to promote or oppose more effective anti-obesity policies.

You will recall that Michelle Obama’s campaign on childhood obesity set off attacks from the right, notably Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Mick Huckabee, a possible Republican candidate for the Presidential nomination and no stranger to weight loss, came to her defense.

Yet, obesity still carries personal stigma that some candidates cannot resist using as when former Senator John Corzine, running for Governor of New Jersey, tried unsuccessfully to use his opponent’s  weight against him in a negative ad. When Asked Whether Christie Is Fat, Corzine Responds: ‘Am I Bald?’ | TPMDC

The opponent, Chris Christie, won and is himself talked about as a possible Presidential contender.

This May, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour took himself out of the Presidential race. His seriousness for running for President was indicated by his hiring top consultants and losing weight. But he said he didn’t have the requisite fire in the belly (I don’t think this is about metabolism.) Barbour rules out bid for president | The Clarion-Ledger |

There is no lack of a double standard here. Columnist David Sirota has commented that while Rush Limbaugh, Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie regularly get attention as serious leaders, no woman even vaguely approaching their size would be taken seriously. Why the fat guy should lose his privilege.