The President quit smoking. Yup, it's true. The First Lady said so during a press conference last Tuesday. Later in the day, Robert Gibbs, the Press Secretary, confirmed that the President has worked hard to kick the habit.
Well, only the Secret Service knows for sure whether or not the President is still sneaking a few puffs. But, regardless, I admire his accountability to himself, his family and to the public. Obama has 'fessed up to his vice. “This is not something that he’s proud of – he knows that it’s not good for him,” Gibbs told reporters. Obama hasn't tried to rationalize his behavior or made excuses. And, he hasn't implied that simply cutting back is good enough. He has plainly said that smoking isn't good for him...or for anyone else.
Compare that to Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. Lets call it like it is...she's fat. And, so are 63 percent of Americans. But, the real question is: Is she accountable to herself and, more importantly, to the public? Is she helping address the obesity epidemic...or is she fueling it?
Having a svelte figure is not, and should not, be a prerequisite to being "America's doctor." Many who have defended the Surgeon General argue that her job is to make health care and policy decisions for the country -- "not to look hot in a pair of skinny jeans." Good point, great sound bite, but clearly a defensive stance. No one expects her to be thin--just realistic and evidence-based about her current weight.
Experts estimate that Benjamin is at least 40 pounds overweight and wears a size 18. Women in this size range report a BMI between 32-34, and using standard American size charts, her waist measurement is estimated at 34.5 inches. She is not a little overweight or in a gray zone. Benjamin squarely falls into the obese category and likely has an abdominal girth that is dangerously close to, if not over, a critical threshold. (FYI...a waist size greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches for men is considered high risk.)
There is no question that she needs to lose weight.