One reason Pelosi has come under heavy fire is that she said the president was “morbidly” obese, a term the CDC does not use. But morbid, which comes from the Latin morbidus, simply means “disease.” Obesity comes with stigma, in part because it is self-inflicted, but also because of its visibility. Unlike other vices — e.g. difficulty controlling one’s sexual urges, temper, alcohol intake, finances etc., — the effects of overeating and under-exercising are constantly on show to others. That must be humiliating. But it must also be a motivation to change. Especially, one would have thought, for public figures…

Policy aside, if length and quality of life is our aim, then it helps to be more straight-talking in fighting obesity. To that end, as was the case with smoking, a certain amount of stigma can be helpful. At the very least, we ought to be able to state the facts without embarrassment.