Posts Tagged ‘Chris Christie’

Chris Matthews Joins Fat Bashing Club

November 9th, 2013

And here I thought liberals were supposed to be compassionate and not make fun of other people for their personal traits. Chris Matthews of MSNBC, joining Time magazine’s Michael Duffy and Eugene Robinson, in reference to Gov. Christie “crushing” his election opponent, says he “feels for his wife.” Wonder if he ever made fun of Tip O’Neil’s weight?


Christie’s Surgery Covered by Insurance

May 7th, 2013

Governor Christie’s surgery was covered by state insurance, kind of. Here is what he said at a press conference this afternoon:

Question: [inaudible]

Governor Christie: My insurance. Yeah. The insurance that I pay for, yeah.

Question: [inaudible follow-up]

Governor Christie: No, I’m not going to price it out for you. No. No. No. Anymore than you have any right to know what Sheila pays for when she goes to the doctor, what Armando pays for when he goes to the doctor or anybody else. No, you don’t have a right to know that, that’s my personal business. That’s called HIPAA. That’s a federal statute. Familiarize yourself with it.

Question: [inaudible follow-up]

Governor Christie: Yeah. It is a procedure that is covered when you go through the steps that you need to go through by the State Health Insurance Plan that myself and my family are covered by. Yes.


NJ Gov Christie Has Lap-Band Surgery

May 7th, 2013

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has had lap-band surgery, according to a report in today’s Politico. Christie’s weight has long been an opportunity for fat-bashing humor and has been considered an obstacle to a potential Presidential run. However, Christie, who had the operation on his 50th birthday, said that he had the operation to be healthier for his wife and children.


Eugene Robinson’s Legacy

October 31st, 2011

Drum roll please. Here’s the first, certainly not the last, nominee for The Eugene Robinson  Award for Weight Discrimination. The School Board fight in Fairfax County, Virginia has had one candidate lay down the Robinson formula that an overweight person is not qualified to hold public office based on his weight.

Snapshot of contested Fairfax School Board seats – The Washington Post  Great job, Gene! (See Robinson’s column on Chris Christie at Chris Christie’s big problem – The Washington Post

What’s Wrong with a Little Fat-Bashing?

October 3rd, 2011

So what actually is wrong with fat-bashing? Everyone does it. Isn’t it a good thing to embarrass and ridicule people into healthy behavior? Well, yes. I guess. If it worked. The round of vitriol directed at Chris Christie for his weight is nothing which millions of persons with obesity haven’t experienced in their own families or workplaces or just walking down the street. The problem with telling a person with obesity to eat a salad and take a walk ,like the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson did, is like telling a person with Parkinson’s disease to just stop shaking or a drug addict to just say no. It ignores the complexity of disease focusing only on the visible end point of a long and complex biological and social process.  

Given the context of the fat-bashing regarding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, it is useful to revisit Dr. Jeffrey Friedman’s 2003 commentary, “Make War on Obesity, not the Obese.”  

Jeffrey Friedman and Douglas Coleman’s names came up this weekend as possible contenders for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. (They would have my vote if I had a vote) for their work in the discovery of leptin in 1994. Their work  revolutionized obesity research, showing how a hormone produced by fat tissue plays a key role in body weight regulation. 

Friedman’s commentary is still timely and deserves revisiting while obesity, especially extreme or severe obesity, is in the news. I think it remains one of the best scientific explanations of obesity and should give pause to anyone who wants to throw a stone or two.

 His major points are:


  1. “There can be no meaningful discussion of obesity until we resist the impulse to assign blame.  Nor can we hold to the simple belief that with willpower alone, one can consciously resist the allure of food and precisely control one’s weight.“

  2. The facts are these “(i) the increasing incidence of obesity in the population is not reflected by a proportionate increase in weight; (ii) the drive to eat is to a large extent hardwired, and differences in weight are genetically determined;  and (iii) obesity can be a good thing depending on the environment in which one (or one’s ancestors) finds oneself.”

  3. The change in weight attributable to any recent changes in diet or a more sedentary life-style is much smaller than the enormous differences in weight, often numbering in the hundreds of pounds, that can be observed among individuals living in today’s world.”

  4. “Twin studies, adoption studies, and studies of familial aggregation confirm a major contribution of genes to the development of obesity. Indeed, the heritability of obesity is equivalent to that of height and exceeds that of many disorders for which a genetic basis is generally accepted. It is worth noting that height has also increased significantly in Western countries in the 20th Century.”

  5. “In general, obesity genes encode the molecular components of the physiologic system that regulates energy balance. This system precisely matches energy intake (food) to energy expenditure to maintain constant energy stores, principally fat. That there must be a system balancing food intake and energy expenditure is suggested by the following analysis. Over the course of a decade, a typical persons consumes approximately 10 million calories, generally with only a modest change in weight. To accomplish this, food intake must precisely match energy output within 0.17% over that decade. This extraordinary level of precision exceeds by several orders of magnitude the ability of nutritionists to count calories and suggests that conscious factors alone are incapable of precisely regulating caloric intake.”

  6.  “Feeding is a complex motivational behavior, meaning that many factors influence the likelihood that the behavior will be initiated. These factors include the unconscious urge to eat that is regulated by leptin and other hormones, the conscious desire to eat less (or more), sensory factors such as smell or taste, emotional state, and others. The greater the weight loss, the greater the hunger and, sooner or later for most dieters, a primal hunger trumps the conscious desire to be thin.”

  7.  The increase in weight is not evenly distributed in the population. “In modern times, some individuals have manifested a much greater increase of BMI than others, strongly suggesting the possibility that in our population (species) there is a subgroup that is genetically susceptible to obesity and a different subgroup that is relatively resistant.”

  8.  “Obesity is not a personal failing. In trying to lose weight, the obese are fighting a difficult battle. It is a battle against biology, a battle that only the intrepid take on and one in which only a few prevail.” A war on obesity, not the obese. [Science. 2003] – PubMed – NCBI.

“Girth doesn’t equal character” NYT Frank Bruni

October 2nd, 2011

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni offers some rationally views on the noise about Chris Christie obesity in a new column. One brilliant line stands out, “Girth doesn’t equal character.”  Chris Christie’s Weight and the Oval Office –

Wash Post’s Robinson Joins Christie Fat-Bashing Crowd

September 30th, 2011

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.

Chris Christie and Fat-Bashing

September 29th, 2011

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s flirting with the Republican Presidential nomination is producing more fat jokes …mainly from liberals who no doubt would be deeply offended if one of their own were attacked based on their body size. Nevertheless, television comedians such as David Letterman find Chrisie’s weight a helpful piñata, saying that under a Christie Presidency there would be a state of “Fatassachusetts.”  Late Night: David Letterman really enjoys Chris Christie fat jokes – He is not the first, remember Bill Maher.

 The issue is not just one for jokes. Mediaite reported Bill Press commenting that Christie shouldn’t run because “he is too fat.” Another reporter said it was an issue of physical fitness, as was John McCain’s age. Mediaite » Bill Press On Why Gov. Chris Christie Shouldn’t Run For President: ‘He’s Too Fat!’ Comments Feed  Forbes has piled on with a ‘history’ of fat Presidents. A History of Fat Presidents – Forbes.

 The unasked question is this : Is Christie’s weight affecting his decision to run for President? The issue was raised by his opponent for governor, John Corzine, who lost. But is Christie ready for a national or international debate over his weight, such as this one from the View?  The View  This brought Michael Moore out to say that Americans might support Christie because he looks like most of us. Michael Moore: America would welcome a fat president such as Chris Christie – On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

 Would we see an obese Republican conservative run against a lean Democratic liberal?  Class warfare or crass fat-bashing? Would liberal Democrats lead the way in fat-bashing? Would the nation split on healthy v. overweight lines? Would you want your weight to be a global topic of discussion?


For more see: [Video]

Want to see how bad it is out there? Look at the comments to Lois Romano’s blog on the Daily Beast:

 See Eugene Robinson’s commentary at the Washington Post:

And the Gothamist:

Michael Kinsley for Bloonberg: Christie is too fat to be president: