Monday, December 17, 2012

Is Christie Too Fat To Be President?

Barbara Walters interviewed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for her "10 Most Fascinating People" Special. I find it rather fascinating that Barbara is this doing these specials but I digress. I’ll admit, I didn’t watch the special but during the interview Barbara did it. She asked the Governor if he was too fat to run for president.

In the commentary I read/watched and by that I mean the ladies of The View rehashing this, Whoopie, and I love Whoopie mentioned Christie could be a heart attack risk. She expressed that people care about his health. If health were really what people cared about they’d be looking at all candidates genetic predispositions and blood work. Our health risk is not purely determined by our weight; it’s just that weight is easier to see. Nobody was aware that President Clinton had a quadruple bypass hiding beneath his skin. Clinton’s “issues” were hidden, at least for a time. I’ve had too many overweight clients told by their companies “we’re worried about you” and some genuinely are. However, many corporations and even family members are also worried by what the obese person’s weight may say about them.

In the interview Christie cited his around the clock work during Hurricane Sandy as proof of his conditioning. It was during Sandy that many were impressed by Christie perhaps even familiarizing themselves with him for the first time. However, I recall press conferences with Christie hunched over the podium, almost hanging on it. He seemed fatigued and worn. Can we make the assumption this is because of his weight? Christie cannot plead the fit but fat card; in 2011 he was hospitalized for asthma.

I have very mixed feelings about all of this. I’d be omitting how I truly feel if, politics aside, I didn’t think of Christie as a potential president with some concern. As someone who champions wellness and fitness, part of me would wonder what Christie, a 300-pound president, would say to the nation and others as we struggle with an obesity epidemic. And as I type that, I can see the counter argument. We have to be careful that we don’t adhere to a narrow, conventional image for our leaders. There was a time when it seemed to be the president you had to be slim and white and male. Thank goodness we have seen that white isn’t a prerequisite. Maybe accepting someone obese is another way of knocking stereotypes down. Although weight isn’t exactly the same thing as race or gender, weight is technically within our control, which makes it tricky.

With Walters, Christie acknowledged that weight was his Achilles heel. Barbara Walters then really crossed over into stupid question land when she asked the governor “why?” We all have flaws and asking some who drinks or yells why they do it shows ignorance. Perhaps, if I let my optimistic side have a crack at this Christie running would shine a light on weight and work and many important (and some stupid) questions along the way.
Do you think weight, when obese, plays a role in politics? What about other professions? Do you think Walter was justified in asking the original question?

And since we're talking politics, I thought I'd include these. A group of RDs supporting Let's Move were in DC in the fall. We're still trying...

The "Garden" is beautiful, any private citizen can request a tour... 
View of The White House from the garden.
The calm before the storm
OK garden tour over, time for lunch.

Carolyn, Ashley and I wish I, cheating photo from before our visit


  1. Honestly, I never thought about it how you said're right, Clinton obviously was much more unhealthy than anyone knew, but we couldn't see it on the outside because he wasn't overweight. Such a great point. Who knows, maybe Christie is incredibly healthy and free of any past medical history or family medical history. We don't know, we just judge on what we immediately see. However, like you said, would he be a good role model? He could clearly shed a few (or.....MORE) pounds, and his physical condition sort of sends the message that he clearly doesn't work out (or at least, not enough!) and choose to follow a healthy diet (or if he does, it's not good enough...). I dunno, I'm stumped. That's a tough one, you posed the question well and hit on some great points! As always.

  2. I'll admit I hadn't thought it through either Gina, but it seems there have been rumblings. Look, he's not a little overweight, even he said "more than a little". Could be a great role model if he really addressed this (conflicting accounts as to whether he is currently). Look it matters, we've looked at candidates cancer history, Huckabee felt need to lose weight to run. Complex for sure.

  3. Christie IS too fat to be president of our country; here's why:
    we are already as a nation, fighting this terrible stereotype that we are all lazy, out of control, instant gratification seekers, who sit in front of TV and video games while jamming potato chips down our gullets, we need our commander and chief to at least LOOK like he bucks that stereotype. Being fat is like wearing your bad habit and lack of will power, I don't care what anyone else says about this, but when I see a fat person, I think "that person is out of control....unhappy....paralyzed by additction." That is not the kind of person who should be representing our country.

    I saw Christie on John Stewart a few nights ago and he was literally gasping for air, dwarfed his chair and was sweating. No. No. And NO. Our country has enough problems as it is, why put an out of shape, physically weak person at the helm? You may care about your country, but you don't care enough about yourself to put in an hour of cardio and a half an hour of weights every day? Control your portions? Drink water? Phhhhht.

    I know what I am saying is just not CORRECT, but PLEASE, please, please find me a person who looks at a fat person and does not feel sorrow or judgement. Find me a fat person who isn't trying on a daily basis to defend himself, fight against his addiction, be okay with his body, and well....just BREATHE.

  4. I think there's a few very key things you mention. Being a leader is different than being an employee. To lead and lead a country have to lead by example, if he smoked would be just as bad (almost). Weight aside, he needs to walk the walk and at least silence the questions with "I see a trainer every day because I know I need to be healthy to do this job."

  5. This is a tough one. We walk a slippery line of discrimination and fat-shaming as we approach this subject. On the one hand I think that it's completely unfair to judge him on his weight. The first comment really struck me as mean and judgmental and that's exactly the opinion I want to avoid sounding like I have. I know first hand how hard it is to lose weight if you struggle with a food addiction. And food is not unlike booze or smokes when abused, right? However if his addiction was booze or smokes, we wouldn't know right off the bat or possibly ever? There are functional alcoholics who run successful companies, could there be a such thing as functional obese people? Hmm. Methinks it's most of America... I am not saying he's a good role model for health and fitness, but let's be honest. There are few to no role models in the world anymore. We are not so naive to think that a president is without flaws? So he's fat. Just make sure we have a good back up plan! I think fat is discriminated against as much as other minorities. Fat shaming won't help the obesity epidemic. And having a fat president won't make you fat too. Vote or don't vote for him based on his policies, his views on women's rights, human rights, environmental rights, and not on his body.

  6. I don't think the comment you mention is that far from what a lot of people think...not that means you have to agree. As for "judging" I think during an election we judge everything about a candidate and I'd like to know more about the physical/health issues that are or aren't looked at. We have to be careful of just because we don't know about it, it's ok. If forced to choose between a functional alcoholic and someone who had a drink here and there...True, as you said everyone has flaws but his is going to be a topic of conversation if he runs and make the VP choice perhaps more important. Not right to judge his intellect, work ethic or values based on weight but, a bad example perhaps, as we face gun control issues we found out a candidate had a gun hobby, would that matter? To some (me) yes, others maybe not. Like politics it depends on where you come to an issue/topic. Having a fat president will not make us fat (good line) but will a fat president be taken seriously when it comes to legislature about health, food etc? I'm not sure I should see what he's done in NJ from a food politics perspective.

  7. I watched part of the interview. I saw Barbara ask him the fat question, and yes, I think she should have asked it. Why? Because it was out there, and it was right that he should have an opportunity to address these thoughts and ideas floating around (that is if he does actually want to run for higher office) to have people speculate with out talking to you is just wrong.

    I also heard her ask him WHY he was fat. His answer was he didn't know. I know a lot of people don't believe him. I do. Why because I have no idea why I am fat either. I have been overweight my whole life. I have been on diets since I was 9 years old and they never helped. I stopped when I got married in my 20s and in my 30s I thought I really should get serious about this and get on top of it. I went on the "chicken and broccoli diet" where pretty much all I ate was chicken breasts and broccoli (a few carbs, a few fat grams, no salt) and I lost a TON of weight, I also lost my ability to stand upright with out getting so dizzy I would have to sit down or risk passing out. I then tried Nutrisystem, which is a high protein low fat slow carb diet. I again lost a lot of weight, almost 70lbs, but in a slower and what appeared safer way. Unfortunately this time I got so cold all the time, and so tired, I could barely function and despite not changing my diet I started gaining weight. I thought it was my thyroid, but that was fine. Thousands of dollars in tests and doctors visits, and 'energy work' and huge over hauls of my diet including food sensitivities, and removing gluten, and I still gained. I am currently disgusted with the weight loss community in pretty much all of its forms as well as ANYONE who says the words "calories in vs calories out" and means it. I am living proof (and I have proof) that this is not all it is. Human beings are NOT mathematical systems. There is more to weight and health than how many degrees a container of water will increase in temperature if you burn a particular food item under it (how they determine 'calories')

    And I have issue with you saying "However, I recall press conferences with Christie hunched over the podium, almost hanging on it. He seemed fatigued and worn." Weren't the leaders of those dealing with Katrina just as fatigued and worn during those times?? Do you think he was fatigued and worn SIMPLY because he was fat?

    and you can be 'fit but fat' and have asthma, just as you can be "thin and fit" and have asthma. We have had people with medical issues in the White House in the past.. And simply because one is "thin" or "fat" does not make them "healthy" or "not healthy" there are a LOT of thin but unhealthy people out there. And not just the anorexic people, but people who look very healthy - like you alluded to President Clinton..

    to make sweeping judgments simply because of X is wrong.. be it fat, or age, or gender, or skin color. etc

  8. Thank you for your comments Connie, really appreciate the honesty and personal story. I also mentioned bloodwork and medical history, so yes I am with you that weight is just one measure of health. There are exceptions to every rule but the hospitalization for asthma, whether weight related or not, for me takes Christie out of the stellar health category. I'm sorry you've had such poor experiences with the weight loss community. I for one know weight is a complex topic and not as simple as calories or any one food. As I said below, I think many wouldn't think about Christie's weight as much if he was in some sort of regime exercising or eating well etc. I think any figurehead or leader in this day and age has to have health and fitness on their radar. This is tricky and I really can see both "that's insane to even mention" and "what does it say to have an obese (not just pudgy" president".

  9. I missed this interview. But I really don't know where I stand on this issue...I feel like it shouldn't matter what Christie looks like - just as it shouldn't matter what any competent employee looks like. But being President isn't exactly the same thing as a regular job. Not sure here...

    But I too am mystified that Barbara is still doing these interviews. That woman doesn't age!

  10. This is a tough question to answer because, like you, I can see both sides. On one hand, Christie (politics aside) is not an image I'd like to portray to the rest of the world - it's pretty much how a lot of the world sees the US already and there's no need to perpetuate that image with our leader. But on the other hand, it may be better to look at his numbers - i.e. bloodwork and an objective picture of his risk for a variety of health problems. That seems like a more reasonable way to assess whether he is up to the task. And certainly "stellar health" isn't necessarily the standard for the job as we have had presidents in the past who were not exactly marathoners. But, I do think it's reasonable to expect that our president is not at an extremely high risk for, say, a major heart attack in the immediate future. I don't know if that applies to Christie or not - I only know that he's fat and that's only one aspect of the risk.

  11. very good distinction, president is different adn more public and well...not just like any other job. Barbara is astounding.

  12. I don't think we can say who has an immediate heart attack risk unless they're having one. I do see the "we don't want to portray this image" and then I scold myself for thinking in those terms. However, a president is representing the US and if I could choose that representative wouldn't be obese. I'm sure others would share this opinion (separate from the cardiac/health angle) and the question is are we justified in thinking in this way? And then I ask myself if he had political views I really believed in would I choose him over someone who had views that scared me, I would don't get me wrong.

  13. Don't forget Taft the raft

  14. good one and it was remarkable even what was it...100ish years ago. Is it different now?

  15. My gut reaction to this question is that I wouldn't NOT vote for a presidential candidate just because he/she was overweight and potentially in poor health. I didnt see it raised, but what about all the older Presidents and presidential candidates we have had-seems no less of a risk than being overweight. BUT, I would be less inclined to vote for a candidate that didn't take a firm stand on addressing the obesity crisis in our country-not sure where Christie stands on that one...Love the DC photos!

  16. This is tough. I agree that just because we see a less unhealthy on the outside, doesn't necessarily mean we should judge not knowing his other health factors, etc. And as a side I thought Obama smoked..or use to smoke.
    But I am with EA, it would be important that obesity still but front and center of the health issues. I would want to make that regardless of the President, that issue is not pushed aside.
    Love the photos! Looks like a fun trip! :)

  17. It was an interesting trip, very hard (regardless of weight of president) to make changes in nutrition arena in DC...a topic for another day.

  18. "gut reaction" made me laugh. Wonder what Christie's gut reaction to all this is. Good reminder EA- issues/views vrs "the view".

  19. I definitely think that his weight will be a huge problem for him if he decides to run. People will focus on it, some jokingly, but many will state that it shows that he is undisciplined, lacks self-control, unhealthy, and too lazy to do anything about it.

    I actually live in New Jersey (and actually work for the state), and I like Christie. Also, I am obese myself. I know the all to real perception that goes along with someone who is overweight. There is no way that he could get enough people to overlook that unless he could show that he was actively working toward a healthier lifestyle.

    For the record, I think he could definitely do the job; but most people would only see his weight.