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Thursday
Sep292011

Would Worries over Weight Sink Christie's Presidential Bid?

Office of the Governor, State of New Jersey(WASHINGTON) -- First the comedians, now the critics are weighing in on Chris Christie's obesity and its possible health implications.

The New Jersey governor has yet to enter the presidential race, despite mounting pressure from Republican supporters. But experts say his physique could dissuade voters looking for a committed, energetic leader.

"In this era of exercise, we impute moral failings to people who don't rein in their weight," David Birdsell, dean of the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College in New York, told ABC. "Those prejudices are just intensified for people who seek elected office."

Obesity is, of course, linked to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

But with one in three Americans defined as obese -- a share expected to rise in the coming years -- many experts believe weight shouldn't factor into a person's professional opportunities.

Whether voters would care about Christie's weight, experts say, the governor should try to trim down for his own sake.

Obesity can take its toll on a person's energy levels, an observation Christie discussed in an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer earlier this year.

"OK, I have to get healthier and this job has really forced me because it's such a draining job from the energy perspective," he said.

Christie was rushed to the hospital in July after complaining of breathing problems and lightheadedness. Worried about his heart, doctors performed blood tests, an electrocardiogram and a chest X-ray.

Ultimately, those tests turned out fine, and the ordeal was blamed on a bout of asthma.

Christie is not the first politician to be criticized for health problems. Rep. Michele Bachmann's migraines raised questions this summer about her ability to handle the pressures of the presidency. And in the 2008 race, Barack Obama's smoking habit, Joe Biden's aneurysm, and John McCain's melanoma were scrutinized.

Presidential candidates are usually forthcoming about their medical history, in part because of public pressure. But some, including once vice-presidential nominee Dick Cheney, have downplayed health concerns until unexpected events landed them in the spotlight. 

After the asthma scare, Christie insisted his overall health is good.

"Despite the well chronicled issues with my weight, I've been relatively healthy by all objective indicators," he said.  

Christie would not be the first fat man to fill the role. William Howard Taft, the county's 27th president, was rumored to weigh more than 300 pounds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio