scorecardNancy Pelosi called Donald Trump 'morbidly obese,' and people are saying that's fat-shaming
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Nancy Pelosi called Donald Trump 'morbidly obese,' and people are saying that's fat-shaming

Gabby Landsverk   

Nancy Pelosi called Donald Trump 'morbidly obese,' and people are saying that's fat-shaming
LifeScience2 min read
  • Nancy Pelosi described Donald Trump as "morbidly obese" on Monday, while cautioning Americans not to follow the President's lead in taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus.
  • People on Twitter reacted say that discussing Trump's weight was unnecessary.
  • Weight is a significant concern during the pandemic, since studies suggest obesity is a risk factor for coronavirus complications.
  • The CDC doesn't use the term morbidly obese. According to the president's doctor, he is at the cut-off point of being obese, with a body mass index of 30.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparked a conversation about fat-shaming after calling Trump "morbidly obese."

Pelosi made the comment while cautioning Americans not to use hydroxychloroquine in an attempt to prevent the coronavirus, as the president said he is doing. Hydroxychloroqine, a drug used to treat lupus, has plenty of side effects and is not proven to have any meaningful impact on the coronavirus.

But Pelosi faced a swift backlash herself for what people said was a fat-shaming comment that only perpetuates harmful weight stigma.

Epidemiologist and CNN commentator Abdul El-Sayed said Pelosi's remarks distract for legitimate criticisms of how Trump has handled the pandemic. It also reinforces weight stigma, he said.

El-Sayed also pointed out that fat-shaming is linked to worse health outcomes.

New York Times bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo wrote on Twitter that a barbed comment on Trump's weight detracts from more relevant potential criticisms, including xenophobic and inaccurate statements about the virus.

Oluo said it also disparagingly compares the president with other higher-weight people. For many in the US, obesity is linked to systemic inequality, poverty, and disparities in food access.

And, regardless of the root, Oluo said: "The size of your body has no moral value."

However, not everyone agreed that Pelosi's comments were fat-shaming. Another Twitter user replied to Oluo noting that reading the comment as fat-shaming already makes an assumption that having a larger body is a bad thing.

Others have argued that "morbidly obese" is a medical term, not an insult, and that obesity is believed to be a factor in complications from COVID-19.

While preliminary data has linked obesity to more severe cases of COVID-19, the issue continues to be debated even amongst experts.

Technically, the CDC doesn't use the term "morbidly obese." As CNN reported, Trump's BMI is just over 30, just enough to meet the definition of obese but far from being severely so.

Read more:

Adele's birthday photo is all over social media, but some say complimenting her smaller body is fat-phobic

It's OK to feel hurt by 'quarantine 15' memes. Here's how to deal with weight gain jokes, according to experts.

Coronavirus anxiety and quarantining could increase eating disorder risk. Here's what to look out for.

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