The Election's Most Weighty Issue? - Pacific Standard

The Election's Most Weighty Issue?

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Presidents employ a wide range of tactics to remind us that they are, indeed, human: shopping in grocery stores, wielding chainsaws, seemingly enjoying family vacations. Yet perhaps the most appealing sign of humanness is something that requires no careful staging: struggling to lose weight.

Presidential weights span from under 100 pounds to well over 300; the first belonging to the slight James Madison, and the latter to the notoriously obese William Taft. But while Taft was often mocked for his size, today, with over two-thirds of Americans currently classified as overweight, presidents are more likely to find sympathy than jibes when it comes to extra pounds.

Indeed, over the past 50 years, several have taken to incorporating weight-related anecdotes into their speeches and public remarks. At the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health, Richard Nixon reported that he ate cottage cheese with ketchup to keep his weight down, while in 1994, Bill Clinton joked about spending "too much time in Mc Donald's" and "trying to watch my weight."

Some have even gone so far as to say that weight will play a role this November, pointing to Barack Obama's trim figure not as an asset, but a liability.

Maybe we just like knowing that even the President of the United States can't resist reaching for that extra doughnut.

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