By now it is no surprise when the bombastic, blunt, confrontational, New Jersey governor is making news for being on the warpath about something, usually calling people the G rated, TV version of what you might expect to come out of a sailors mouth. This typically makes him a stationary punching bag for critics and causes political pundits to bemoan that singular fact alone may well keep him from the Whitehouse since they desperately want him to run in 2016, as he appears to be the only potentially viable republican candidate to go up against possible democratic hopefuls like Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden. However unlike his outshining of Mitt Romney at the NRC convention, either sounding more like the candidate or setting up his bid for 2016, there was more than his love it or hate it style on display and he had a greater point than just republican rhetoric against policies he doesn’t believe in when he fired back at the former Whitehouse doctor who called his health a ticking time bomb, saying she worried about him dying in office. He hit on two things important to many, family, in explaining the reaction to the news segment by his 12 year old son, and debunking this pervasive idea in a culture, ever hearing about an obesity epidemic, that obese people are even more sub human than we have always treated them throughout the years. Sadly the latter is a phenomenon only getting worse with continued popularity of shows like The Biggest Loser, the love or hate appeal of doctor and fitness personalities like Julian Michaels and doctor Oz. One perpetuating every stereotype about overweight persons being lazy, slovenly, lacking character and will power; the other putting forth just how ignorant Americans supposedly are about health and healthy eating habits constantly doing eat this not that segments, talking up the benefits of supplements, creating drinks and combining strange foods only found in big city health food stores, incidentally costing a small fortune, yet one third of the nation remains obese.
As for Governor Christie, he was absolutely right to call that doctor irresponsible making it all the more poignant in describing his 12 year old boy asking him if he was going to die after seeing the news piece; now we can argue the merits of letting a 12 year old watch the news all we want. But, had he not seen it at home there is no guarantee he would not have been asked about it at school, perhaps even teased about what was said on the news, because his fellow students saw it and know who he is, who his father is. And maybe he would have come to his father at some point asking the same question after a nutrition section in health class at school, but the fact is that’s not what prompted him to go to his father and say such a thing, an awareness this child did not need, for which this doctor should be ashamed of herself. Irresponsibility being an especially accurate summation of the comments considering Connie Mariano, former Whitehouse doctor or not, said what she said without having performed an examination, done any basic blood or other lab work, as she resides in Arizona, without so much as a cursory glance at his medical records, possessing zero knowledge of his family history. At least when they spout such things on TV shows, A- individuals consented to be on the program, consented to the testing done by Biggest Loser, Dr. Oz, or The Doctors medical staff and consented to discuss the findings with cameras, audience or both present Further she framed her proclamations in reference to the fact she wants him to run for president in 2016, but wants him to also lose weight; to begin with, according to reports he hasn’t decided if he is running for governor next year, never mind he has always denied any interest in the presidency stating his current job, responsibility and passion was the people of his state. His only deviation from that stance on possibly changing jobs was during election season when Mitt Romney had yet to pick a vice president telling news media he would consider it if his, hopefully soon to be president, asked him to serve, a moot point since the outcome of the election.
You know your potentially on the wrong side of an issue when a doctor who specializes in, generates his living doing bariatric surgery calls it incredibly judgmental for Ms. Mariano to speak the way she did about Mr. Christie sans any knowledge of his activity level, dietary habits. Why else would he say so when he makes money either performing or referring people to clinics dedicated to weight loss surgery, could make more money, get more recognition for his industry, his focus of medicine if he went along with what the other doctor was spouting? Common sense strengthened by fact; the governor himself says his health is good, there is no public knowledge available or circulating to in any way suggest he currently suffers from or has precursors for any of the typical “lifestyle related illnesses” diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol. He even talked to ABC’s Diane Sawyer about working with a personal trainer. Mariano’s projections similarly belie what we continue to learn medically about the human body from risky, controversial deep brain stimulation known to drastically reduce cravings in obese people to the sometimes almost instantaneous normalization of blood sugar mere hours after bariatric surgery showing a possible link to changes in hormone levels, gut bacteria chemistry and the resolution of diabetes. Also widely known is the plain truth people gain weight as they age, a biological, physiological phenomenon that can start in puberty and continues throughout remaining life. The realization he looks to have been a normal weight child into adolescence and early adulthood, supported by various family photos given to the media, reveals clues to what could be going on, things not known without a doctor’s full investigation. Neither is Chris Christie the first well known, public figure to be overweight, obese, fat and not have any of the associated health problems; Al Roker at the time of his gastric bypass had none of the problems usually prompting people to undergo the procedure, actress and comedian Mo’Nique spent years using her celebrity status to promote big not only as ok, part of who you are, but beautiful. Her weight loss motivation stemmed from an endearing comment by her husband about wanting her for a lifetime rather than a sudden diagnosis of a medical problem. Nor ironically is Mr. Christie the first person in recent history to occupy a top government position managing a chronic health problem, or don’t we remember vice president Dick Cheney who entered the office with a severe heart issue, had at least one cardiac event while there and years after leaving had a heart transplant. All that aside, the Bush Cheney ticket was elected not once but twice; now most people look back on those years as an utter failure, perceive the vice presidential office a far cry from oval office responsibilities, perhaps less than a governorship, fact still remaining, he didn’t die in office.
At the same time the governor is not naive concerning where his size could land him health wise, is not in the dark that his current positive health status could change at any moment, that he could suffer a heart attack, stroke, even die informing news watchers he will attempt to lose weight again, has a plan to deal with his weight should he get any indications it is impacting his health. Conscious of his place in the public eye, in public service he is not holding himself up as an example of health instead acknowledging the struggle many across the country have with their own weight. Equally paramount and perhaps telling is America’s awareness he is not the pinnacle of health; he is representative of the struggle not an example to emulate. Curious too is the timing what prompted a former Whitehouse doctor to speak out when she did; apparently Connie Mariano is a big fan of Chris Christie and really, really wants him to be president come 2016, cringing when she saw him on David Letterman taking a bite out of a jelly doughnut. First off, what she, we, the public want is irrelevant, what the Republican Party may need is irrelevant; what matters is does he want to run, is he as much mentally up to the task as physically and most importantly would he make a good president, a good commander and chief? Addressing his Letterman appearance, for those who don’t know it David Letterman is a comedian; the doughnut eating, which from the clips disseminated by news media consisted of taking a bite out of said doughnut, was a joke, a humorous response to an infinite number of fat jokes, eating habit jokes, health jokes told by that same comedian. Incidentally it was a scene he and the audience laughed hardily at; relatedly there is no indication he eats one of those daily, or more to people’s perceptions of obese persons, an entire box every morning for breakfast, so it’s a logical conclusion such behavior is not a main cause of his weight issues. He has made many appearances on talk shows late night and otherwise, to most people’s knowledge this is the first time he has brought food as a prop, to eat on air; if it was not, where was her outcry all those other times? Another potential burning question dying to be asked by onlookers, no doubt; everyone else got the joke, why didn’t you?
Underscoring the outrageousness of Mariano’s obesity mini manifesto taken out on a state governor, is equal parts what we don’t see as well as what we do see, or what she thinks she sees; we saw footage of him walking areas, coastline after super storm Sandy, yet not getting winded, never heard were remarks about officials and personnel having to stop because he was out of breath, couldn’t go on. He was walking with Diane Sawyer during a recent interview; not heard in the segments, any sign he was incapable of carrying on a conversation while walking, he’s not pale in color, needing oxygen to function. No it doesn’t take a physician to see that he is overweight, and yes we know obesity heightens chances of getting certain diseases, cancers; however it is not a forgone conclusion he will end up with one or all of them. To say nothing of making such statements is certainly no way to change his health. Citizens of New Jersey elected him more inclined to rail on him for his policies than his excessive poundage, the example he supposedly sets in regards to health in America, but outbursts of this caliber are not an uncommon occurrence to those familiar with Fox news, Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh, voices continuing to bleed into mainstream media. Mariano’s is just the latest sound off by individuals seemingly striving to prove overweight, obese persons to be the drain on society they’ve always thought them to be, speculating on Governor Christie’s possible untimely death comes on the heels of employers increasingly convinced hiring a fat person is hazardous to their bottom line whether it is in health costs they will accumulate, injuries sustained on the job containing rudimentary lifting, light cleaning or other tasks skinnier people “can just do better,” or worries about company image if there is a fat woman at reception, even going so far as to say such things about pregnant women holding the position. Oh and you better not be too beautiful either or you could end up in the same situation as a young female dental assistant fired when her attractiveness began to compromise her bosses marriage, despite her never having made any romantic overture to him, instead seeing him as a father figure. Nevertheless he couldn’t keep his mind off her and the court sided with him. How about being fired for dressing in too figure flattering outfits, not inappropriate just too figure flattering for one bank forget the teller was a hit with customers, even brought in extra business based on her manner of dress accentuating her body. And we wonder why so many people don’t have jobs; welcome to the world we currently live in.
Chris Christie is a perfect example of a different kind, a perfect demonstration overweight, fat, obese people can function in a variety of jobs, that they can meaningfully contribute to society, something that only comes as a shock to ignorant mindsets. He may well represent the health track of obese people without a family history, the other hugely contributing factor in contracting diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease. Protecting the health of high ranking government personnel in the context of what the former Whitehouse doctor was disturbed by requires understanding the single most determining factor pertaining to the health of an official in an office like the governorship or the presidency is stress; you do see this commented on by news outlets every so often presenting side by side comparison pictures of current, former presidents when they entered office and X number of years later, 2, 4, 6 or 8. Here you do see the drastic changes particularly in the amount of gray hair, marks of age, frown lines, forehead wrinkles. Stress logically contributed as much or more to President Clinton’s heart attack than just poor eating habits; being the leader of the free world can’t be easy. Independent of what Christie says about his health, what his doctors know about it, what commentators think on the subject, this doctor was wrong to frighten the people of New Jersey about their elected leader without substantial evidence, was wrong to spout something inaccurate and insensitive in a public venue where his son, or any of his children, might see it, only to add insult to injury with a quote to NBC about it being sad he attacked her instead of recognizing his problem. No he “attacked” her for commenting without sufficient knowledge, both as a physician who should know the danger of doing so and as someone who has served that function for presidents aware of the media, pressure and scrutiny, meaning she should doubly know better. And to top it off, the thing that absolutely sent him to the microphone was the question his son posed to him as a result of the woman’s comments, sending a clear message he is ok with the weight jokes done in good humor, is fine with the criticisms, statements he should lose weight, but he draws the line at unfounded scare tactics. Never mind his “attack” was more of a challenge seeing as he said if she wanted to come to New Jersey examine him, view his medical records, family history he would have a conversation with her about that, but until then she should shut up. Sounds like a proportional response to most people when your thoughtless comments effect their kid.