New surgeon general is overweight. Does it matter?

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

President Obama’s pick for the new surgeon general, Regina Benjamin, M.D., is drawing a little controversy.  She appears overweight.

Here at My Family Doctor we have a little argument going on whether this should matter.

The surgeon general is the spokesperson for U.S. health policy and therefore helps decide general policy on what health subjects should be stressed.  Tobacco is a biggie, but few could argue obesity has become a major topic and the crisis du jour.

Some say her weight should not be an issue.  She is a well-respected physician with a strong history of public service.  People struggling with weight may relate to her.  She can sympathize.

Others ask how anyone can give recommendations and advice they have been unable to follow.  There are plenty of well-qualified doctors, not overweight, whom the president could have chosen.

I would love to hear your opinion.  What do you think?

James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H., is the publisher of My Family Doctor, a magazine written by health-care providers for the general public.

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As with all information on this site, this article cannot replace professional, personal medical advice. Read more here.

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3 Responses to “New surgeon general is overweight. Does it matter?”

  1. jg82567 Says:

    ‘Others ask how anyone can give recommendations and advice they have been unable to follow.’

    That’s a cop out. If you don’t want to hear what someone has to say, you can always find an excuse. If my doctor looks like Naomi Campbell and has never had a fat day in her life, how can she advise me when she’s never had to lose 50-60lbs. If I smoke and tell someone they should avoid/stop it because it’s killing me and will do the same to them, it’s good advice even if I am still struggling with the habit.

  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks for the opinion, JG.

  3. Dr. J Says:

    I wrote about this on my column earlier this week. I think she is well qualified, and has shown herself to be a very good medical practitioner. By the way, Dr. Hubbard, I don’t see your view on it :-)

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