Should the Surgeon General be thin?

Esther - posted on 01/11/2010 ( 31 moms have responded )

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http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkup...

What do you think. Should the fact that the new surgeon general is on the heavy side disqualify her for the position?

It was being discussed on the news this morning and frankly I think it's ridiculous. This woman is obviously qualified and it's not like she is so obese that she needs to be rolled out of her home. I think the discussion is quite offensive to her to be honest. But then again, I'm (very) overweight myself so maybe I'm just too sensitive. What do you all think?

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Dana - posted on 01/12/2010

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I do think that some one's knowledge and skills are important but, she IS overweight, it's unhealthy. It IS unhealthy to be overweight, plain and simple. Most people don't want to look at it that way but, honestly those are usually overweight people. We can argue the degree's of weight and whose healthy or unhealthy at whatever weight but, we *know* that overweight and underweight is unhealthy. So we just "do as I say, not as I do"? I don't know how many times I've heard of doctors who don't even broach the subject of weight to their patients because they too are overweight. We all tend to bury our head it the sand or avoid a topic if we fall under a category with a negative connotation.

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Rosie - posted on 01/17/2010

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it is kindof a tough call for me, but i say if she's qualified and competent in her job than why should she not be the surgeon general. while it's true that she is the lead figure for health in this country-how many people actually look up to her? or even know what she looks like-cause sad to say i don't have a clue what her name is or what she looks like. people in this society look up to movie stars or sports hero's and those are the ones that are usually paper thin and in my view give no true insight on what a average person is supposed to look like. people can walk around at a healthy size 8 and are called fat because of who we have as role models in this country. while i do agree that obesity is rising way to fast in this country, i believe that what is considered "normal" (a size 2) needs to be changed. i'm not saying that will solve obescity at all if we changed our views on what is considered "normal", but it might put some people on a better track if they don't have to feel like they need to be paper thin to be beautiful. eating for alot of people is emotional- they might feel, why even bother to eat better if i'm never going to look like that person-i think i need another brownie.

Veronica - posted on 01/14/2010

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I should say I was part of that - my weight is very stubborn coming off - but it can still come off - doing the right things.

Veronica - posted on 01/14/2010

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I am part of the 2% - it takes the right vitamins, supplements and diet to keep the thyroid stable. Not everyone knows this either.

La - posted on 01/14/2010

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Only a small percentage of people who are overweight TRULY have a severe enough of a thyroid problem to inhibit weight loss measures- roughly 2%

[deleted account]

I had another thought. Does she (surgeon general) have any medical conditions that may make it hard for her to loose weight? Such as thyroid problems. The assumption is that she's overweight because of poor diet or lack of exercise but maybe there's a legit reason for the extra pounds.

Veronica - posted on 01/14/2010

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Wow, this can be veiwed and decided on on so many factors. Her smarts before her looks. Looks as a bad example - or looks as a good example. And the opinions of everyone.



First and foremost, I think a person's skills, intelligence, knowledge and smarts - should outweigh a person's looks in any given circumstance. It SHOULD be this way. But, we have to be realistic - it isnt this way, and it wont be this way. Just like some of you said - an obese personal trainer doesn't look to be in the right career!



Looks as a bad example. If she is going to promote health and healthy weight - she should be what she preaches.

Looks as a good example. Maybe perhaps she will be a motivator - people might be more apt to getting healthier and losing the weight with someon on their side - instead of someone skinny/dropdead gorgeous to only feel less about themselves - do you know what I mean on that? Perhaps if she lost weight and got healthier WITH the nation - it would be more.

What is overweight? I believe there are cultures that would probably see her as healthy and the right size. I think the BMI is a bs system - and im convinced that it was designed around supermodels or something! ha ha ha Your muscle and body fat need to be counted - not just weight vs. height. Before I had kids, I was 130lbs. of fat, in a size 13/14 jeans, and i was tubby. I worked on my grandparents farm - by the end of so many months or so - i was still 130lbs. - but was replaced by muscle, my fat was 30%, and i dropped down to a size 7 in pantsize. So- does that mean i was still overweight? No. At least I certainly did not see it that way.



And Sara is absolutely right. You cannot judge a book by its cover. I KNOW thin women, who are not healthy at all. They "look" healthy - but internally they have digestive issues and heart issues that you would not believe - mainly because of the junk they eat, or think they can eat cause 'they never gain a pound'. They look healthy and are thin - but are not taking care of themselves in a healthy way - nutrition/vitamins/detox -etc.



I think its rediculous to judge her on this - but she is in a position that is was bound to come up. Looking and dressing the part is very vital and key in this world. If you want a job, impression on someone, look professional - you have to dress the part. As unfair as peircings/tattos are being rejected -- its how it is. Its the business world. Looks have become vital in the damn business world. Quite a few years ago, they did like a 20/20 special or whatever it was - they ran an experiment on looks/gender. Men were likely to get the job over the women; and better looking - less qualified people got the job over the average/less than average looking - but better qualifed person.

That was in the 90s - its still happenening.



SO to conclude - in my opinion I don't think it should matter now. BUT as the surgeon general - if she were to remain overwieght without showing effort of getting healthier and slimmer for her body type - than i think her position should be looked at again - because going into the position she is in - and she just sits there and tells everyone else what to do, but remains where she is at - that is where i think the line should be drawn. Its one of those: I dont care what you DID, I only care about what you ARE GOING TO DO NOW.



eat it up!

[deleted account]

I see what you're saying Dana but according to that ideal weight for height chart, I'm 20 pounds overweight. If you saw me out somewhere you'd never think "Hey, she's overweight." (I'm not saying you would think that, just an example). I'm no skinny minnie but I think that whoever created that chart was a little unrealistic.

And what about sumo wreastlers? They're not small and aren't they supposed to be some of the healthiest.

Dana - posted on 01/14/2010

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I don't know Wanda, I think everyone knows that a few extra pounds are healthy and can agree with that. Although there IS a difference between a few extra pounds and 20 pounds or more.

[deleted account]

There's WAY to much emphasis put on being thin. Just because you're thin you don't automatically qualify as healthy. I read once that people who have a few extra pounds are actually healthier than those who are thin, underweight or obese. Not that you'll read something like that too often as it goes against the current popular belief.

Dana - posted on 01/12/2010

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I agree Mary. Although I think there is a difference between a doctor and the Surgeon General. I don't think she should resign but, I do think it's something for us all to think about and any future appointee's.

Mary - posted on 01/12/2010

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An afterthought....

Until I saw this article, I never even gave her weight, and whether or not it made her "worthy" a second thought. I'm guessing that is probably true for many of us. Another perfect example of the media creating a contoversy where one didn't really need to exist. It does seem a bit sad to me that her (unoffensive to me) physical stature could become more of determining factor in her ability to do the job than her education and experience. If we demanded that all physicians be perfect physical, mental and emotional specimens, well...hell, there would be very few of them left!

La - posted on 01/12/2010

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Quoting Sara B:
I don't think we're kidding ourselves...no one has argued that it's healthy to be overweight or obese, but I think it's a valid point to argue that weight isn't the only indicator of how healthy or unhealthy someone is.

True I agree that weight isn't the only indicator of one's health status, however, it is one of the most easily visible estimates of health. Seeing that someone is overweight indicates that that person is at a higher risk for health problems associated with obesity just as seeing someone smoking indicates that that person is at a higher risk for health problems associated with cigarettes.

Mary - posted on 01/12/2010

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It's a tough call. Yes, obesity is a growing epidemic in this country that NEEDS to be curtailed. Yes, Benjamin is a bit on the chunky side. So, yes, an argument could be made that she is not the "ideal" role model to lead America in the battle against obesity. It could also be said that she has the capacity to lead by compassionate example; she is not perfect, and truly understands the struggles that many of us face in reaching and maintaining a healthy body. Obesity is a bit of funny thing...we are a little more hesitant to call people out on it because it appears to be judging someone based on appearance, or hurting their feelings. However, most people would vehemently oppose a surgeon general who was a known pack-a-day smoker, even though both cause many of the same health problems, and have similar impacts on morbidity and mortality rates. Is that a double standard?



I agree with Sara that a person's BMI is not a throrough indicator of health. Pregnancy is the perfect example of this. I was not overweight prior to conceiving. I gained 25lbs with my pregnancy. I'm 5'3", so this did put m BMI either just at or a tad over 30 on admission. I know that this flagged me as "at risk" in our computer system because there is no adjustment for that natural healthy state. For some reason, that annoyed the crap out of me. There does need to be a better, more complete means of assessing health and weight that factors in a little more than simply height and weight.

Sara - posted on 01/12/2010

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I don't think we're kidding ourselves...no one has argued that it's healthy to be overweight or obese, but I think it's a valid point to argue that weight isn't the only indicator of how healthy or unhealthy someone is.

La - posted on 01/12/2010

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Even if the statistical way people are measured is slightly skewed I highly doubt it would change the fact that more than half of Americans would still be considered overweight. If you went by body fat percentage I believe MORE people would actually be classified as overweight (because all those seemingly skinny people would have excessive body fat vs. muscle/tissue ratio). Arguing the definition of overweight (whether it is defined by pound measurement, body fat percentage, BMI, etc) sounds like it is just a way of justifying that it's ok to be overweight. I have heard many people say I'm overweight but I'm healthy which may be true in some cases, but those people are the exception not the rule. To be overweight (I'm not talking about being fit and having extra muscle) doesn't that imply that one is already at risk for obesity related illnesses? Isn't being overweight a symptom or precursor to other future health risks and problems?

If you are 10-20lbs over your recommended height/weight range, you generally eat healthy, are physically active, AND have no health problems then you truly are the exception, but we all know that this is not the case for MOST people who are over OR under weight. Let's not kid ourselves- most Americans (even the ones who are in a normal weight range) are NOT healthy by the means I just described, so we are just trying to make ourselves feel better about our own body size by saying "I'm overweight but I'm healthy."

Sarah - posted on 01/12/2010

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I've got to agree to a point with Sara. When i got pregnant with eldest, my BMI was only 17 and the nurse was convinced i was anorexic! Despite the fact that i did not in anyway look anorexic!
My BMI is actually spot on now.....22.
My husbands is like a little bit over and he's now classed as 'overweight' although he really really doesn't look overweight at all!
Bit off topic a guess, but interesting! :)

Sara - posted on 01/12/2010

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It may be true that we are being overly sympathetic, but the statistics for people considered "overweight" in this country seem a little skewed to me. I mean, do you weigh the recommended amount? Is your BMI under 30? (I mean these "yous" generally, btw). Because I can tell you that even when I was running 4-5 miles a day and was the healthiest I have ever been in my life, I still wasn't the weight that is recommended, nor have I ever been. I think a lot of people are deemed "overweight" that you would look at and think "they look healthy" and it makes me wonder how realistic those numbers are in the first place...I don't think you have to be the recommended weight to be healthy...anyway, that's my commentary on "statistics".

La - posted on 01/12/2010

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I also think the people are being overly sympathetic and forgiving about this issue because a majority of Americans are overweight or obese also (last I checked 66% of Americans are overweight or obese). If this woman were being discriminated against for something less common people wouldn't be so quick to jump to her defense.

La - posted on 01/12/2010

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Let's face it, whether it is right or wrong people are judged by the impression they leave visually. For example, I have visible tattoos- when I go to job interviews it IS a factor that I'm being judged on even though my tattoos are no indication of my level of intelligence or experience needed for that job. I don't think it's fair that I'm judged on my visual appearance, but that is life and if I don't like it I can choose to cover or remove my tattoos. If she doesn't like that she is getting judged on her visual appearance then she can choose to change it so that it is no longer an issue. Like I said, it is not right to discriminate on someone's appearance but it is a fact of reality.

[deleted account]

I think that's my point, Esther-size may be one small indicator of health, but there are lots of others as well. It's not the only factor here, and it's being treated as though it is. Also, there ARE people who are healthier when they are "overweight" according to charts and graphs and indexes. Genetics plays into size. BUT regardless of size, there are all sorts of other ways of assessing health. I'd be more concerned if she were a heavy smoker or something.

Sarah - posted on 01/12/2010

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I think if it will interfere with the job she is being paid to do, then it should be a cause for concern. If it will not interfere, then let the highly qualified woman get on with her job. :)

Sara - posted on 01/12/2010

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All I can think of is that an anorexic person is thin, but they're certainly not healthy. I just don't think you can tell by looking at someone like this woman whether she's healthy or unhealthy.

Esther - posted on 01/12/2010

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I agree Dana that being overweight is very unhealthy. Although in another article about this subject that I read a doctor who was generally critical said that just by looking at pictures of Regina Benjamin she did not think that she was overweight enough for it to have a real impact on her health. And I do think that it is possible to be somewhat on the heavy side and still be healthy. My friend went on a back-packing trip for 8 months all over the world and walked many many many miles every day with a heavy back pack on her back. She also ate very healthy food while she was doing it. And yet when she came back, she was still curvy. She looked phenomenal (you could tell how fit she was) but she wasn't thin by general standards. There are many other things that can be detrimental to health too. Stress for example. Lack of exercise. So should a surgeon general be required to spend x-number of hours a week exercising? Should we make sure it's the right kind of exercise? Should we ensure that this is someone who handles stress well? Someone who has a happy marriage so that they are not stressed about that? Who eats the right things (for example, my husband is rail thin but eats candy like there is no tomorrow. The more chemical the better)? I know I may be taking it to the extreme, but really, does a Surgeon General have to be perfect to be acceptable?

Iris - posted on 01/12/2010

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I think it's a silly argument. We cannot possibly judge how healthy this woman is by looking at her on the outside, especially as she's not morbidly obese. She could be extremely healthy-just like that super-skinny woman down the street might not be. Then again, maybe she's not, and maybe that super-skinny woman down the street is. Size is not always an indicator of health or physical fitness.


Exactly.
For me the outstanding professional skills and experience are far more important than her being overweight

[deleted account]

I think it's a silly argument. We cannot possibly judge how healthy this woman is by looking at her on the outside, especially as she's not morbidly obese. She could be extremely healthy-just like that super-skinny woman down the street might not be. Then again, maybe she's not, and maybe that super-skinny woman down the street is. Size is not always an indicator of health or physical fitness.

Dana - posted on 01/11/2010

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Yes, who ever is the Surgeon General should be healthy and not overweight. I don't know if you're over sensitive or I'm under sensitive. :P

?? - posted on 01/11/2010

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Without even looking at her I don't think she should be "thin", I think she should be healthy. Just like with ANY job position - appearance doesn't mean everything.



I'll go to a bald person to get a hair cut, if I can see that they are a qualified hair cutter.



I'll go to a dentist with fake teeth, if I can see that they are a qualified dentist.



I'd obviously look into their certification, want to see 'what they've done' in order to see proof that they do know wtf they're doing.



But as far as this goes, now that I've looked at her, the lady is well qualified, she is obviously trusted enough to get nominated for the position, she's not obese, she looks a lil older so chances are most of the weight put on can be chalked up to LIFE which only makes her even more qualified for this particular position.



When I read "The surgeon general" I don't have an image of any particular person, I don't go to them specifically to ask them for a regiment - I just take a general notice of what the surgeon general says... I don't think "Oh shit, she's fat, she couldn't POSSIBLY know that THAT would be bad for me." lmao

Jocelyn - posted on 01/11/2010

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Quoting Laura:

Hmmm it's a toss up for me. I do agree with Sara that society is harsher on a woman's weight than a man's so part of me feels like it is unfair to make it part of the job qualifications. On the other hand, I am a believer in practicing what you preach...I mean, I wouldn't go to a personal trainer or nutritionist who was obese or overweight because how can they make me healthier if they can't help themselves. It seems hypocritical to advocate a product, service, or lifestyle if they do not partake in it themselves. Being the surgeon general is a position that, no pun intended, holds a lot of weight so I feel that they should be held to the health standards they are encouraging for Americans.


I agree with you.  Part of me thinks that it's no problem, sure she's a little big, but if she's geniunely healthy it shouldn't be a problem,  and she does have the smarts for it.  On the other hand, I do believe that the surgeon general should look the (proper) part.  I was signing up at a gym a few years ago and got a personal trainer for a couple hours.  She was huge!  I just stared at her with one of those "if you can't get yourself into shape how the hell are you suppose to get ME into shape!?!"  I believe you should practice what you preach.  I wouldn't go to a dentist with fake teeth, a tattoo artist with no tattoos (etcetc) so why would't go to a doctor that doesn't look healthy?

La - posted on 01/11/2010

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Hmmm it's a toss up for me. I do agree with Sara that society is harsher on a woman's weight than a man's so part of me feels like it is unfair to make it part of the job qualifications. On the other hand, I am a believer in practicing what you preach...I mean, I wouldn't go to a personal trainer or nutritionist who was obese or overweight because how can they make me healthier if they can't help themselves. It seems hypocritical to advocate a product, service, or lifestyle if they do not partake in it themselves. Being the surgeon general is a position that, no pun intended, holds a lot of weight so I feel that they should be held to the health standards they are encouraging for Americans.

Sara - posted on 01/11/2010

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I can't help but wonder, if it were a man, would he be critisized for his weight? Our society, as a whole, is harsher on women when it comes to being fat or thin.



As far as being skinny and being the surgeon general, I don't think that being skinny means that your healthy and I don't think being overweight necessarily means your unhealthy. it is ridiculous.

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