President Donald Trump declined to respond Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling him “morbidly obese.”
“I don’t respond to her. I think she’s a waste of time,” Trump told reporters after meeting with Republican senators on Capitol Hill.
On Monday, Pelosi said it was “not a good idea” for the president to be taking hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has not been proven to work against the coronavirus, because it can pose a risk for people with heart conditions and he is “morbidly obese.”
Trump told reporters earlier Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half to stave off infection from the coronavirus. The news stunned many health experts because the drug – normally prescribed for lupus, arthritis and as a prophylactic measure to prevent malaria – has not been thoroughly tested for use against the coronavirus, which has killed more than 90,000 Americans.
Despite the lack of clinical testing, Trump touted the drug for use against the virus for more than a month, saying he had a “feeling” it was effective and telling Americans, “What do you have to lose? Take it.”
But on April 24, the Food and Drug Administration said the drug has “not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19″ and that it should not be used “outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems.”
During an interview with CNN, Pelosi was asked her reaction to the news the president was taking the medication despite the FDA warning.
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“He’s our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say, weight group: morbidly obese, they say. So, I think it’s not a good idea,” she replied.
Though Trump is obese, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standard, Pelosi is incorrect in labeling him “morbidly obese.”
After last year’s physical, the 6-foot-3-inch Trump weighed in at 243 pounds. According to the CDC, that gives him a body mass index of 30.4, which is just over the threshold for what the public health organization labels “obese.”
The CDC defines three levels of obesity. The highest level, Class 3, is sometimes called “morbid” or “severe” obesity, but that requires a BMI of 40 or greater.
The FDA warning regarding hydroxychloroquine does not say obese people are at greater risk from the drug’s potentially fatal side effects. It says patients with “health issues such as heart and kidney disease are likely to be at increased risk of these heart problems.”
Trump, 73, does not suffer from any existing heart condition, according to the results of his physical, though he does have a history of high cholesterol, for which he takes medication.
After Trump’s criticism, Pelosi said on MSNBC that she “didn’t know that he would be so sensitive. He’s always talking about people’s… weight, their pounds.”
Can hydroxychloroquine prevent COVID-19?:President Donald Trump thinks maybe. There’s no data to support that.
Contributing: Savannah Behrmann