Step off, haters. Chris Christie has Obesity Society on his side

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can’t seem to escape continuing scrutiny about his possible plans to run for president in 2012--or from continuing scrutiny of his size. Following recent public commentary on Christie’s weight and how that may affect his chances should he run, the Obesity Society just issued a “Position on Recent Criticism of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.”

That’s right--now he has a formidable and highly respected organization in his corner, and they’d like everyone to back off.

“The Obesity Society takes no position on Governor Christie’s political philosophy or record in office,” the statement reads. “We do take the strongest exception, however, to assumptions about his suitability for office based on his weight.

“A person’s body weight provides no indication of an indivdual’s character, credentials, talents, leadership, or contributions to society. To suggest that Governor Christie’s body weight discounts and discredits his ability to be an effective political candidate is inappropriate, unjust and wrong.”

The Maryland-based Obesity Society, a nonprofit scientific group committed to studying obesity, went on to say that we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that slimness is always equated with good health: “A lean body does not reveal whether or not a person smokes cigarettes, drinks excessive alcohol, eats a balanced diet, exercises regularly, or wears a seat belt. To single out a political candidate on the basis of body weight is discriminatory.” Indeed, some studies have shown that you can be fit and fat.


But discrimination on weight abounds, even as people continue to gain weight, and two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese. A 2008 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that weight discrimination may be almost as prevalent as racial discrimination. In a survey of 2,290 U.S. adults who were asked about experiences of discrimination, frequency of weight and height bias were 5% among men and 10% among women. But among heavier people with a body mass index of 35 or above (considered obese), the risk of discrimination was 40%. Women and younger people had a greater chance of being discriminated against.

“There is no place for weight bias in a just, compassionate society,” the statement concluded. If Christie does decide to run, do you think his weight will continue to be a sticking point during his campaign?