Morton Kondracke is correct that President-elect Barack Obama is in a special position to encourage exercise. However, he goes too far in suggesting that obesity should become a socially unacceptable stigma (“Targeting Obesity,” Commentary, Friday).

The goal of trimming waistlines will not succeed with a heavy-handed approach intended to make people feel ashamed of their personal decisions. A recent nationwide survey by the American Dietetic Association found that 43 percent of Americans report they are working on maintaining a healthy lifestyle (up from 38 percent in 2002). Most Americans know what they have to do – they don’t need the government telling them ice cream has calories or how many daily pushups are required.

Obesity is the result of individual choices people make (or don’t make). Mr. Obama can be a helpful example. Elevating obesity to the level of a public menace not only brings unhealthy stress and humiliation, but it does nothing to actually address the issue.