October 3, 2011
Title: Body Weight Criticism of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
TOS’ Position: The Obesity Society (TOS) has been asked to respond to recent criticism regarding the body weight of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Critics have called into question Governor Christie’s ability to be an effective and appropriate presidential candidate or leader because of his body weight. The Obesity Society takes no position on Governor Christie’s political philosophy or record in office. 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 individual’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.
Caution should be taken in making assumptions about a person’s lifestyle behaviors based on physical appearance alone. Individuals who are not struggling with their weight are not necessarily healthy. 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.
The criticism of Governor Christie is an unfortunate example of the weight bias and stigmatization that is pervasive in North American society. The prevalence of weight discrimination in the United States has increased by 66% in the past decade, and is now on par with rates of racial discrimination.
Stigmatization of individuals who are struggling with their weight results in considerable suffering, impaired quality of life, and waste of human potential. There is no place for weight bias in a just, compassionate society. The Obesity Society opposes weight bias and discrimination, including recent attacks of Governor Christie. As a leading scientific organization on obesity, The Obesity Society is committed to increasing public awareness about weight bias and its negative consequences for those affected.