May 20, 2020 by

5.20.20 – Austin American-Statesman

“Fact-check: Is Donald Trump ‘morbidly obese’?”

By Emily Venezky, PolitiFact.com

This piece was originally published on PolitiFact.com on May 19, 2020.


Excerpts from this article:

President Donald Trump brought his health to the national coronavirus conversation on May 18 when he told reporters that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, a longstanding anti-malaria drug, as a preventative measure against COVID-19.

…House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN’s Anderson Cooper she was concerned for other reasons. In the interview, Cooper asked Pelosi what she thought of Trump saying he is taking the drug.

“I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group,” Pelosi said. “He’s morbidly obese, they say.”

But morbid obesity, or severe obesity, is a term of science, and weight is a risk factor for COVID-19.

We decided to see what we could find out. Pelosi’s office did not offer a comment…

The White House did not respond to an inquiry for this article. Trump responded to Pelosi’s comments at a May 19 news conference, calling Pelosi “a sick woman” with “a lot of mental problems.”

Officially, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not define the threshhold needed for someone to be considered “morbidly obese.” Instead, the CDC says that “Class 3″ obesity, sometimes categorized as “extreme” or “severe” obesity, is defined as having a body-mass index, or BMI, of 40 or higher. Other medical sources list a definition of “morbidly obese” as equivalent to a BMI of 40 or higher.

Some available data about Trump comes from his most recent periodic physical exam. In a 2019 memo, Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley said Trump was 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 243 pounds.

Officially, Trump’s height and weight would correlate to a BMI of 30.1, just a bit over the 30.0 level to be considered obese — the lowest of three levels. That is not high enough to count as Class 3 obesity.

…To have a BMI above 40, with the highest of those weights (260 pounds), Trump would need to be shorter than 5 feet, 8 inches. He’s not.

…Our ruling

Pelosi called Trump “morbidly obese.”

Based off of his declared height and weight, Trump has a body mass index of 30.1. This places him into the lowest of three levels under the CDC’s definition of obesity. Even if the public numbers are a bit shy of reality, Trump would have to be substantially heavier to meet a level of severe, or morbid, obesity.

We rate Pelosi’s claim False.

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