Wash Post’s Robinson Joins Christie Fat-Bashing CrowdSeptember 30th, 2011 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »
Eugene Robinson has a column in today’s Washington Post titled, “Christie’s Hefty Burden.” Chris Christie’s big problem – The Washington Post I cannot recall the last time I disagreed with one of Robinson’s columns but this one is really bad. The middle of the column is a recitation of facts about obesity, seemingly taken of f the NIH website. Robinson’s mistakes are two, one at the beginning and one at the end of his piece and they stigmatize persons with obesity.
In the first paragraph, Robinson says that whether or not Christie runs for President he needs to lose weight. (I’m sure Christie is grateful for that insight.) But he goes on to state, “Like everyone else, elected officials perform best when they are in optimal health. Christie obviously is not.”
Whoa! Let’s look at this. First, being obese, even having extreme obesity, does not mean that a person cannot perform a given job. They may have a health problem, like diabetes, or joint problems or their weight may aggravate another problem but their weight, per se, does not mean they cannot perform a job. Does one have to be in “optimal” health to perform their best? Tell that to FDR with his polio or JFK with his back pain. Tell that to tens of thousands of persons with handicapping conditions and diseases who go to work everyday and perform and, often, outperform, their colleagues. Even if Christie has some of the comorbid conditions of obesity, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, many of these are manageable by medicine.
In the last paragraph, Robinson offers Christie some “sincere advice: Eat a salad and take a walk.” I’d like to suggest Robinson go to anyone of thousands of Weight Watchers meetings this weekend or to the group sessions of bariatric surgery patients and see what reaction such ill-informed and gratuitous advice provokes. If it were so easy, we would not have an obesity problem. If a columnist did some homework, he might learn that even the best, most motivated behavioral interventions produce between 5% – 10% weight loss.
Of course, as most dieters will see, Robinson presumes that Christie is at his highest weight. Maybe? Or maybe he has lost significant amounts of weight already. Maybe he has sustained that weight loss for a long time. To presume, as Robinson has, that Christie is (a) currently in bad health, (b) cannot perform a position such as governor or President if he is obese, and (c) hasn’t heard the message on eat less exercise more is ludicrous. (Actually, a lot of normal weight persons, in my experience, feel they are just a great person if they tell a fat person to eat better and exercise more.) It is an example (as if we needed another one) that obesity remains the last socially acceptable excuse for discrimination.
The team on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning discussed Robinson’s column and, frankly, had a much more intelligent discussion than Robinson displayed. Hopefully, this will be a moment to educate Americans about the realities of obesity and avoid stigmatizing persons with obesity.