July 22nd, 2009
04:00 PM ET

What message is sent if U.S. Surgeon General is overweight?


President Obama announced Dr. Regina Benjamin as his nominee for Surgeon General in the White House Rose Garden last week. (PHOTO CREDIT: TIM SLOAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In a nation where more than one-third of adults are obese - the president is coming under fire for his selection of an overweight surgeon general.

ABC News reports that Although Dr. Regina Benjamin has been praised for her top credentials - like creating a medical clinic for the poor after Hurricane Katrina - many believe that Benjamin's appearance sends the wrong message as the nation's top doctor. It is estimated that Benjamin is as much as 40 pounds overweight.

The Department of Health and Human Services insists that Benjamin is highly qualified, saying: "She is a role model for all of us, and will be an outstanding surgeon general."

And supporters suggest her job is to make health care decisions - not to look good. They say her size might help her better understand the problem of obesity. Some health experts highlight studies that show it's possible to be fat and healthy, while others say the president himself - who still smokes cigarettes - isn't the best role model for good health either.

But - there's no doubt obesity is a growing crisis that's costing the U.S. billions of dollars a year. Fat people are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer among other things. Critics also point out that Benjamin could set a better example for the black community - where obesity is even more prevalent.

Here’s my question to you: What message does it send if the surgeon general of the U.S. is overweight?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Susan from Idaho writes:
The message it sends is that not everyone is a size two. C. Everett Koop wasn’t exactly Tiny Tim. I've known nurses on drugs and doctors who were alcoholics. If whoever takes the post focuses on good child health care and abolition of substance abuse I will be happy with that.

Brad from Memphis, Tennessee writes:
It means you're an idiot. It means that you're paying attention to the wrong thing. Fat people aren't stupid, we're fat. We are just as smart as our skinny counterparts and it means that as usual you are looking at the veneer instead of looking for qualifications.

John from Fort Collins, Colorado writes:
Dr. Benjamin should be the new surgeon general, but be put on probationary status with the condition she must set an example to the nation by losing 40-pounds during her first year on the job. In addition, President Obama should set an example by quitting smoking. Weight loss and smoking cessation in this country would be an inexpensive way to eliminate billions in health care costs.

Mari from Salt Lake City writes:
Well, Jack, since more than 30-percent of Americans are obese, the new surgeon general can launch a credible campaign to "thin out America"! Only an obese person can really speak to this problem, and know full well how difficult it is to fight the addiction to food. Having fought this battle myself, I know that being obese is much more than just about what you eat. It's about "what's eating you"!

Beth writes:
I do think it sends the wrong message… But, at this point, if Obama would decide to withdraw his nomination, then we will have all sorts of people crying out that it's discriminating because of her weight and maybe even racism. We just can't win can we?

Arlene from Illinois writes:
As a plus-size woman, I say how dare you even ask that question!

Dave from Brooklyn, New York writes:
Physician, heal thyself?

Filed under: Health • United States
soundoff (255 Responses)
  1. Ellen in Madison WI

    I'll resist the urge, Jack, to rebuke you about your manners, commenting on a woman's weight. Your question is flawed, because it depends on how you define overweight. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that the "healthy" weight guidelines have been manipulated for profit. And lord help us all if it gets to the point where obesity is defined as a disease, because what we spend on treating it will pale in comparison to what we'll spend on disability payments. There's no denying that obesity is a growing problem, but let's not go overboard. She looks healthy to me. (I'm 5 foot 3 in, 125 lbs, in case you want to comment on my weight too)

    July 22, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  2. Vivian Fauntleroy, Largo MD

    The message sent is that it would be better for the SG to be a drug addict, a pedophile, an ax murderer, a liar, a cheat or an adulteress, as long as she is "thin" and no one knows about it. Then it's her personal business . But if a woman is overweight, no matter what her accomplishments and skills, she is viewed as deficient, less then, and unworthy. And everybody and his brother feel they have the right to puck out this one imperfection (as if she were without a scale or a mirror) and discuss her as if she were an amoeba. What a shallow people we are. Shame!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  3. george

    You are very brave to ask this question, but the answers that you are going to get won't have anything to do with health issues, only that you are picking on a minority woman. Good luck Pal !

    July 22, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  4. michael armstrong sr.

    Mike from Sherman Tx. Jack maybe her parents should be prosecuted for child abuse like that 500 pound kid acthuly jack she looks delightly plump to me not all skin and bone.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  5. mitzie - GA

    I absolutely agree she is overweight. I also believe that her credentials and her dedication are more important than her weight. Maybe she could take Oprah's place and show all American's how to lose weight by example. I know that the nation is fatter than ever before but I find it odd that we waited until we had a woman Surgeon General before we worried about the weight of the person in the position.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  6. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Oh for crying our loud, Jack.
    The woman is overweight, not obese. The majority of us are.
    She looks healthy to me. Talk about making a mountain out
    of a mole hill!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  7. j/NJ

    What message does it send if the surgeon general of the U.S. is overweight?

    That depends...if she is relatively healthy and has lead a virtuous puritanical life, she has a reasonable chance of keeping a low media profile...if not, she will become a victim rest assured...the press and the major news networks will track her every move, twist and publish gossip stories about her true or not, until she does what all red blooded profligate American politicians and agency heads are supposed to do...resign...

    July 22, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  8. Nancy, Tennessee

    Funny, I didn't even notice she was overweight until everyone started pointing it out. We have so many fat people that she just blends in with the crowd. For her to be the top health advisor, says we don't always have people in high places that practice what they preach. Imagine that! She needs to lose weight and become the poster child for a new campaign to get fit and trim in the U.S.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  9. Lance

    Give Dr. Regina Benjamin the position when she loses 50lbs! I'm not trying to be rude but, it's the same as FAT personal trainers training clients. Also, majority of doctors and nurses have this same problem. They tell patients that that they are unhealthy when they themselves are FAT! In my opinion, in their position, there needs to be weight regulation. Maybe Obama might want to add that to his stimulus bill!

    Seattle, WA

    July 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  10. Ayah

    It sends the message that being overweight doesn't stop a person from holding a job she is well qualified for.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  11. Brad in Memphis, TN

    It means you're an idiot. It means that you're paying attention to the wrong thing. Fat people aren't stupid, we're fat. We are just as smart as our skinny counterparts and it means that as usual you are looking at the veneer instead of looking for qualifications. People who think this way give us results like George Bush. BTW, who knows more about trying to fight a weight problem? A skinny person with a great metabolism or someone like Dr. Benjamin?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  12. John, Fort Collins, CO

    Dr. Benjamin should be the new Surgeon General, but be put on probationary status with the condition she must set an example to the nation by losing 40 pounds during her first year on the job. In addition, President Obama should set an example by quitting smoking. Weight loss and smoking cessation in this country would be an inexpensive way to eliminate billions in health care costs.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  13. Julie - Kentucky

    C. Everette Coup was also overweight. I don't remember anyone ever mentioning that.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  14. Janice

    OMG, are people REALLY this bored? There's obviously not much to attack Obama about!! Was he born in the US? Is his appointee overweight? WOW.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  15. Stephen R. Collier

    The President smokes and stays skinny.... Maybe there's something for Dr. Benjamin to think about there? Hmmm?

    Virginia Beach

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  16. steve - Midland, TX

    It sends the same message we get from all of our politicians........"do as I say, not as I do". I don't think she's not qualified because she is overwieght, but she doesn't set a good example. There's got to be someone that has taken better care of themselves and is equally qualified?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  17. Kelsey Noojin

    If she were a man who is an estimated 40 lbs. overweight we wouldn't be having this conversation.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  18. Joe Peoria, Az

    There is a lot of truth to "fat and happy"

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  19. Koko/Massachusetts

    Jack, come on now, is it getting so bad out there that we nitpick every darn candidate because of some picayune oddity? Most of America is overweight by some little bit at least, so the surgeon general nominee needs to lose some luggage.....the thing to remember are her superb qualifications that seem to be lost in all the bickering. What a bunch of naggers we've all become!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  20. Jon Gill,philadelphia

    None that matters. What would these same people have said if they had been around when Taft was president.
    Besides she's only a little overweight. she's not obese. If she's qualified then let her serve. What's next, disqualifying for long hair, bad make-up. etc.??

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  21. Sandi Williams

    I think the message is that this is a hard problem for people facing obesity. It is a wonderful opportunity for her to work right along with the nation to get more fit.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  22. twannaanderson

    i must admit that i felt the same way when they first introduced her. but i had to stop and ask myself if it was fair to judge her on her appearance. maybe she lost 100 pounds already and well on her way to a healthier presence. but she better get to working on it fast because like it or not, the expert on health for the country must be healthy!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  23. Linda Swint

    I wonder if there would be a question about her weight if she were white.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  24. Sophie M

    Not much. You would think a General Surgeon would know the importance of good nutrition and exercise; I am nearly certain that is part of the curriculum.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  25. Flameman

    It doesn't really matter what message it sends, just as long as she is qualified.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  26. Adam

    Based upon the number of obese in this country, do you think anyone actually pays attention to the Surgeon General?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  27. Joseph Wardy...Randolph, NJ

    It is the same message when teachers tell studnets to do one thing and then do another. it is the same message as a police officer or a lifetime military person with a "beer belly'.

    Overweight is an issue here as i am reminded of the quote, " What I see speaks so loud I can't hear what you say".

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  28. OBDAG in Appleton, WI

    An overweight Surgeon General would clearly have a creditability problem if overweight. On one hand I feel she is very qualified but I can also see the weight issue is a big problem for confirmation. A long time ago I was taught that your personal appearance or "bearing says much about you. In my case I used to run nearly dasily as a weight control measure even thought I mentally hated the actual running. I suspect in this case that her work load is so large that she relies a lot on fast food and over time has caused her weight problem.Possibly. as Surgeon General she could participate in an exercise program and lose some weight – but you must make time for the workouts and be motivated to maintain the program. I hope this doesn't make withdraw from the prcesss

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  29. Kara

    Well Jack,
    She may be overweight but she's not obese, right? I mean Michael Jackson weighed 105 when he died. Look at all the super models who starve themselves to get jobs and the countless teens who are anorexic and do such grave harm to themselves in the long run when they deprive their bodies of the necessary nutrients to remain healthy in their youth and throughout adulthood. I mean seriously, with the housing slump, health care crisis, and unemployment on the rise do we actually need to waste time talking about the weight of one person? She was appointed because she is actually qualified for the job! Let us not forget the fiasco of what happened during hurricane Katrina and our head of the Dept. of Homeland Security didn't know which way was up. Word to the wise, main stream media does not need to report on every little thing critics say. The majority of Americans are thinking about how they're going to make their next mortgage payment than caring about how much the newly appointed Surgeon Generals weighs, no offense.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  30. Shelly

    Jack, I beleive that what it says is that we should care much more about someones acomplishments and ability than their outword appearence. If the general public would pay more attention to what someone is capible of, instead of how they would look on a magazine cover we would all be better off. Shelly

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  31. Darrick B

    Seriously Jack? There's got to be something more important than the size of someone's waistline. By the way, I hope I look as good as you at your age, but I'm sure it's not likely.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  32. David A Whitaker

    Jack what in the heck are these people talking about, they have the nerve to critisize her for being a few pound over weight. Everybody don't want to look like a stick, like some of the unrealistic model. I think those people that you can see their bones, need some meat and potatoes.


    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  33. Johnny

    It sends the messenge that being over weight can happen to the best of us!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  34. Pattypye

    You have established a new low for meanness. There is this little thing called genes that sometimes make it impossible for every woman to be a size 8. We should be concerned more about health than a dress size. Shame on you. BTW I am 66 years old, 5'6" and 134 lbs, so don't go saying this is sour grapes.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  35. Barbara Brannon

    If she sees her weight as a personal health problem she has the opportunity to challenge the entire overweight population to join her in a year-long weight-loss program and let us see how she is doing all along the way.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  36. Mary

    Jack, overweight can be adjusted. Stupidity and just plain mean and ugly is not reversible. Just listen to Mitch McConnel, John Boehner and many other Senators.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  37. Steven H

    I wouldn't take financial advice from a homeless person. I wouldn't ask a drunk to show me the way to sobriety. I wouldn't ask a deep sea diver about the wonders of outer space. Why would I trust an overweight person to make health decisions for me?

    Steve in Bellville, IL

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  38. Lee in MN

    WOW..Someone would be more concerned about appearence than brains and ethics. That is really sick, almost racist and discriminatory.

    Lets move into the 21st Century using our brains. Right Jack??

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  39. John from Brooklyn

    Jack are you serious. How many people in America do you think know who the surgeon general is or what his/her job is? Most people probably didn't even know the position existed. It would be more hypocritcal if she was a drinker. That's the only thing most people have heard of: The Surgeon General Warns... Not even knowing who the surgeon general is

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  40. Dan, Massachusetts

    Whether it's paying taxes, smoking, spending only what you have or obesity, this administration does not believe in leading by example.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  41. Kenneth Orr

    Not nearly as poor a message as a president who smokes

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  42. Rose in Alabama

    WoW! With all the things in the world to worry about the pundits are focused on this woman's weight??? Where were they when Everret Coop was nominated? He was certainly overweight and was far more visible than my "Alabama" sister is purported to be. You guys need to get a life. It seems if you can't find anything nice to say you always go for the JUGULAR!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  43. Natalie - Dayton Ohio

    Hmmmm...let's see, that she is representative of American society and can better understand both the struggle faced and the need for programs that are both affordable and sensible?

    One thing is certain: This question would never have been asked had President Obama selected a blond haired, blue-eyed bolemic waif.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  44. Karl from SF, CA

    It says we are worrying about something that doesn’t need to be worried about. She has a better understanding of what the rest of us chubs go through trying to lose weight and be healthier. She will be more encouraging and less ridiculing. We know we are overweight and don’t need to be constantly reminded.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  45. Tim, Red Lion PA

    Absolutely disgusted with the republican spin apparatus.

    Not a chance of this issue being raised had President Obama nominated a man.

    How about some questions that matter, Jack.

    We need to keep focus on healthcare, and get reasonable coverage for all, not focus on the surgeon general's specific weight.

    Here's a question: How can ALL AMERICANS get the healthcare coverage our house members and senators have?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  46. Maryam

    Well, nothing much!!! It's not about how people look like, It's about what they want to do! President Obama's plan is to help his nation and this is one of the things he is doing, even he's not a the 'perfect role model' or the people who are helping him. In fact, no body's perfect! we all know that!! What are you expecting???

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  47. Brendan Gilmartin

    Will being overweight impair her from fulfilling her duties as surgeon general? That should be the only criteria for judging her qualifications.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  48. Kairitu

    Her looks,or size has nothing to do with her job description. If anything she is a role model for over weight girls who are constantly teased and will help with their self esteem.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  49. Merdie Houston, TX

    Does anyone remember Dr Koop? He was morbidly obese and not a word about it! Dr. Benjamin is qualified!!! 'Nuf said!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  50. Rodney Wells

    Jack it sends no message at all,one way are the other,The lady chosen is more than quailified for the position of top "DOC",its past time we in this country look at qualifications and not physical qualities,let's please move past the shananigans of physical looks ...all of them.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  51. Frank from Peterborough

    After listening to the American talk shows and news medias I don't think the problem they will have is with the Surgeon General being over weight but like their idols the Republicans they are more apt to have a problem with her color.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  52. Linda Swint

    Linda from Midland, MI. Jack I wonder if there would be a question about her weight if she were white or male?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  53. Susan from MN

    What a great opportunity for Dr. Benjamin and Pres Obama to set good examples by losing weight and quitting smoking. Dr. Benjamin's credentials are the most important factors for this job, however, imagine the impact and exposure she would get if she accepted the job, made a commitment to lose weight, and allowed the American people to follow her weight loss journey.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  54. Johnny

    Jack, it sends the message of "do as I say, not as I do"...typical politician statement, don't you think?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  55. peter dohan

    well, it is simple mr cafferty, it means she is overweight. she is no slouch and is a humanitarian and a great choice.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  56. Chris-Illinois

    Farrah Fawcett kept her weight down and she's in heaven where size doesn't matter!. The woman is not overweight, she's pleasantly plump!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  57. Ilona Fox

    Yes, it matters that she is overweight! As a struggling-to-lose person I look at her and think; if she can't maintain a healthy weight with all her status and money, how am I going to?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  58. Henry

    Come lets get serious she is qualified all this crap about her size is a copout people always want to use public figures as a example of whats wrong with society instead of looking at themselves as a problem bottom line if you don't want to be fat work out and eat right and don't look for a public figure to blame because your big.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  59. Michael from Sterling, Colorado

    The average dress size of women in the United States is 14 and she is only two sizes above that. The female body changes as women grow older and it is good to see someone on a position that does not make women feel self-conscious about their size and this may result in more people listening to what she has to say about medical advice, rather than dismissing it as the preaching diet message that may come from someone who has no understanding of what life is actually like in The United States. She has more than the necessary medical credentials to do the job and it will be nice to actually have a role model that doesn't make gorls and women feel bad about themselves.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  60. Eugene

    It sends a message that she cannot control her eating habits and probably does not exercise.


    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  61. Gloria Pace


    The Surgeon General obviously needs to go to Weight Watchers!!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  62. DorothyB

    If the new surgeon general was a white male who was overweight by 40 pounds, no one would ask this question.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  63. Jeanne Holley

    I find it astounding that this is being brought up. How long was C. Everett Coop the Surgeon General? He was no "lightweight" but no one questioned his ability to be Surgeon General because of his weight. It seems very sexist to me. The woman is an outstanding nominee, but of course she is a woman!!! For shame Jack. Give the woman a break!!!

    Jeanne – Pocahontas MO

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  64. Greg Mechanicsburg, PA

    If I required my doctors to all be in perfect health, I’d be in sorry shape. I’m glad that Obama picked who he did. More people can relate to her. Remember that two thirds of your potential viewing audience has a weight problem so it would behoove you to be kind.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  65. Sher Grotts

    Interesting that her critics don't criticize her on camera. I can't help wondering, how much do they weigh.

    Sher Grotts
    Patterson, CA

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  66. Shirley

    C. Everett Koop was not exactly a skinny person. If this woman is qualified to do the job, then let her do it. Is this sexism? Sure looks like it to me.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  67. Patty in Rochester, NY

    I think her qualifications and past successes in her career are what we should be focusing on. Why do we suddenly care about a Surgeon General weight problem? With past Surgeon Generals it wasn't an issue-oh yeah, she's a women and suddenly it's OK to criticize....shame on the people that brought this issue up.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  68. Marie Bartlett

    Also odd how nothing was ever mentioned about our former surgeon general, Everette Koop, being a bit overweight. Come on, people, can we get ever get beyond style over substance? Is the woman qualified with her credentials? Enough said.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  69. John R

    The salvos are coming fast and furious now, but is any of this stuff rational? I mean, blasting the President's nominee for Surgeon General for her weight? If my memory serves me right, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop wasn't exactly light on his feet, but nobody blasted him for his weight. Come on, the Republicans are pulling out all the stops, aren't they? Does anyone remember Hurricane Katrina, and President Bush's FEMA Chief who was praised for doing such a great job in the hurricane's aftermath. I truly am sickened by Republican dirty politics.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  70. linda natha

    What about c everett coop? Is there a double standard here?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  71. Emma, San Luis Obispo, CA

    Seems to me Jack by asking this question about a black woman appointed by a black president of the United States, is the same racist, anti-woman, line of questioning Sonia Sotomayor had to endure by a group of WHITE politicians at her hearing for Supreme Court. If the appointments were given to WHITE and White FAT men would you even dare ask such a ignorant question?
    I am a 55 year-old WHITE woman who is not overweight.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  72. kathleen in PA

    I truly hope that people are as offended by this as I am. Her credentials and her care for all types of people is way more important than her weight. GET OVER the abuse of overweight people. They do have a conscience and brains. It seems like no matter what this President does, it doesn't sit right with some people.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  73. G. Eriksson

    Here is a great opportunity to show the nation how to get healthier: she just has to lose the extra weight just before their eyes.

    Also, would the extra weight bother anyone if the candidate was a man?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  74. KJ Donald

    The fact that the top doctor in America may be over weight has absolutely no bearing on her ability to do her job. Her body shape should have no basis on ability to help lead the countries health advice/reforms. While I am a Canadian, we still receive many of the same messages from the surgeon general, as well as fight the same battles in health care (such as obesity) and i believe that her knowledge could be beneficial in the war against obesity.

    KJ Donald, Calgary, Canada

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  75. lrae

    Had to chuckle at this one...how many senators and representatives are 40+ pounds overweight????

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  76. Anne

    Who cares. I am so sick about our obsession with visual perfection. She looks healthy and happy. Better than being skinny and miserable.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  77. Ashley

    I am currently reading Food Politics by Marion Nestle, and have currently read many books on related topics. I am a young mother, and a very concerned citizen. I am OUTRAGED with the information that I have and am getting madder and madder the more I read. I know that many people (if they knew) would also be mad.

    As far as the Surgeon General being overweight, I think it is obvious that this Big Industry is even brainwashing the "educated" citizens in believing that even in moderation that bad foods are good for you. It is time for the public to get educated and fight this war on our health.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  78. Pat in Georgia

    It says that qualified people can come in all sizes, shapes and colors!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  79. Maurice


    I do believe you could have found a better topic given you years of reporting and knowledge. Being an American with African roots i don't think this will have any barring on ther getting the job done. And a true story would be her losing the extra pounds. Now thats a story!!!

    Thanks Maurice

    Irving, TX

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  80. monte

    If you or anyone wants to hold appearance of "weight" as a requirement to be the top dog as SG, then the same criteria should be required of IQ levels must be required of the idiots in Congress!!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  81. Linda

    The message it sends is exactly "that" she is overweight. Do we
    discriminate against her simply because she is overweight, which
    is the plight of a high percentage of Americans. Maybe, she can
    help all of overweight adults and children with her exemplary command
    of medicine.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  82. Jason

    I think that this is a sign that America is going the wrong way. When we start to judge people by their looks and not their credentials we leave ourselves open to make errors in our judgment. She is very qualified to do what President Obama wants her to do, be the nations doctor. As a health care professional myself I do know the dangers of obesity, but using a persons weight over their qualifications is just flat out wrong. Its kinda like telling the late Chris Farley he is too fat to be a comic.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  83. AshGrace

    I do not understand why we are looking at her weight as any kind of indication of her ability. If she is the most qualified she deserves the position.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  84. C.A. Giacoma

    Oh my god- racism and party politics have fallen to a new and nasty low- I can't believe this fine doctor and humanitarian is being attacked for being (what some consider to be) overweight. Is there no level we will not stoop to? These days it's pretty embarrassing to be an American when some of us are acting like this.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  85. Alicia

    Funny to see that when it is a woman seeking the job there is a issue of her looks and her weight ..... yet we watch these overweight men on tv bumping there gums each day .....who cares ....we just need the best person for the job.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  86. Michelle, New Haven CT

    It tells every little girl out there that no matter how much you accoplish as a professional, no matter how successful you are, because you are female it will all be shoved aside to focus on what you look like. The message loud and clear, those that bring up her weight, and the media that reports it, are sexist. This wouldn't be an issue if she was male.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  87. Dale Simmons

    A picture is worth a 1000 words
    An example sends a strong message

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  88. Kat

    I agree with Mitzie - seems more than a bit sexist to me. I can remember others who were overweight when they assume the office and no questions were raised.

    Her credentials should be what matters most. If you start filing high offices only with skinny, non-smoking, non-drinking, non-drug taking candidates, I fear what will happen to our government. And how about folks in the Legislature? Will you make weight a qualification of running for ANY public office?

    Folks need to get a life! Many doctors are overweight, but their brains and their ability to treat patients is more important than their appearance.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  89. Awilson

    People should be aware of their weight, but are we enterested in what she looks like or whether she is qualified to do the job.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  90. Aimee McHale

    The more salient question about Dr. Regina Benjamin is not what kind of message her weight sends than what kind of message her life sends. She is an African American woman who has achieved much at a young age. What message does that send? She is a woman who has seen a need in her community and has met that need. What message does that send? She is a woman who advocates for the health needs of underserved populations in this country. What message does that send? She is a woman who who has won many honors and awards for her work, who could earn a lot more than what she earns, but she continues to serve the public interest. What message does that send? Only in America would the issue of her weight take on greater importance than her serious accomplishments. What the heck?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  91. David Kinard

    Are you serious? How can anyone judge this lady and think that her size is sending the wrong message. How about this message, "There are no limitations in life, just obstacles that we rise above". I'm sure that lady had to deal with being her size and look at what she has accomplished. Is it her size or is it her color or the fact that she is a woman that was appointed by President Obama. Who this be a question if George Bush would have appointed her. When we talk about obesidy in America, let's start at home with us shoving fast food down our children's throats just because we don't feel like cooking.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  92. Cristina Diaz- Madera, CA

    It sends the message that sometimes those who are selfless and take care of others, sacrifice part of themselves. I hope Dr. Benjamin will be able to take care of herself, since she has done such a remarkable job of taking care of others and is beyond deserving of her role as surgeon general.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm |
  93. Lesley in Albuquerque

    What a racist and sexist comment made. What about the previous Surgeon General who was a White Male and overweight as well. For goodness sake people, Half of America is overweight and we're not calling them out!"

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  94. Alex

    As a general rule, pick the most talented and qualified person for the job. While her visually obvious fault of obesity sets a poor example of physical fitness, others may have worse flaws which are concealed. If she is the best candidate, appoint her... then it is up to her to set the example and lose the weight.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  95. Michael in Albuquerque, NM

    Throughout most human history the surgeon generals body type would be considered on par with a fertility goddess. I still think her wieght only adds to her desirability. But, sometime in the last twenty years our health has been under the direction of a bunch of spindly vegetarians whose ideal body weight compares only to cigarette smoking heroin addicts and anorexics. A healthy body has some meat and fat on the bones!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  96. Ed

    Her weight matters NOT! What matters are her qualifications! This reminds me of the hearings we just had for justice on the supreme court. Let's stop talking about looks and ethnicity! Bush proved that looking proper and dressing well have nothing at all to do with ability. He was a clown in a suit.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  97. Jene Moseley

    Why can't Dr. Benjamin demonstrate what a healthy lifestyle can do to change a person's weight? She should admit she's overweight, begin an exercise program, start eating fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, low fat dairy, skip carbs and sugar so the country can see what can be done with motivation. She has an excellent opportunity to lead by example.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  98. Knox

    I saw her on TV and I had no idea that she was overweight. I just thought she was curvy, like a real woman is. If she is healthy and has the credentials do the job, why are people focusing on her weight?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  99. Tom DeChaine

    Of course he should select a fit person for such a position.
    But there should not be government monitoring of obesity – or any other health condition.

    The entire HC reform plan rests on the assumptions that HC is a right and government has the right to control our HC decisions. This is absolutely wrong. It is thoroughly Statist and is simply another method of redistributing wealth and growing govt. control of the individual.

    Having said that, the Republicans are lacking principles and will unfortunately end up agreeing to a bad compromise.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  100. Kevin L. / Omaha, NE

    Again...there's always something wrong. She could be genetically geared to be a certain weight...not everyone can be, or should be like "Twiggy" or a beauty queen. C. E. Koop was an old man...did he fit? Like Sotomayor she's past highly qualified. Please Amer...stop playing around!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  101. Aileen from Louisville, CO

    It means she is a dedicated physician whose responsibilities do not leave her with the free hours the health Nazis devote to buffing up.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  102. Lesley L.

    It gives me another chance to be disgusted at the witch hunt that takes place when good people try to serve in public office. We all need to learn how to uplift these people and thank them for their service, not try to tear them down. Shame shame.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |

    Yes, Dr Benjamin is overweight but she is only overweight enough to understand the affliction and how tough it can be fix.
    Today's America is growing out of control,ecpecially our children. We are feeding them to death.
    At least no one can say "She doesn't know what she's talking about she's never had a weight problem".
    Too many judges in this world.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  104. Victor

    The fact that America can see a highly qualified woman like this one and be concerned with her physicality shows just how superficial we as a country have become. I agree that since her position is basically that of chief health propagandist; she must set an example, but she is not a 700 pound shut in, she is a mature woman who is well filled out. Plus, one cannot use a one size fit all measure of obesity, Black people tend to have have thicker bone structures and so in some cases can sustain weight levels which would be very unhealthy for Whites. I've known Black women who looked heavier than her and were quite athletic.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  105. amarie-NC

    The nations Surgeon General should not be obese.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  106. Antwaine

    Is it because she's Fat or Black. I hate when people raise their right hand when they really want raise their left. Leave The lady alone.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  107. Joel

    Jack, she's not overweight.. at 40lbs over, she's obese! Something which must be disclosed is: what (other) maladies does she have as a result of her obesity? high blood pressure? type II diabetes?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  108. Tena

    what it shows is that she is human... so are we now to discriminate against her in this case too... we cant say its because she's african-american so we can use someother reason... does this mean that any employer can now discriminate against anyone else who is 40lbs overweight... please... what happen to common sense... no one is perfect in this world... if shes qualified that should be it... what about all of those people who are adulterers... that has not gotten them fired yet...

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  109. Steve

    I can think of a few US Senators who were former Klu Flux Klan members that represented the interest of their states for all people, so why is the issue with us knowing something is not healthy for you and advocating such but at the same time struggle with it personally. How many of us struggle with something (a habit, and addiction) that we don't want a love one to to suffer the the same struggle? Let;s leave the hypocritical character at the door or is it different for people of color and apathy for the white population?

    Clifton, VA

    July 22, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  110. Terry in Hanover County

    It proves that she's human like the rest of us. She looks fine just as she is. Please leave her alone. BTW, everyone looks overweight next to President Obama. How can anyone eat cheeseburgers, fries, and ice cream like he does and stay so thin? I'm so jealous. I gain weight every time CNN shows a clip of him stopping in a burger joint.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  111. KEJARO, MD

    Oh My God... I recognize that discrimination comes in many colors and shapes, but weight? Really? Her abilities are likely not adversely affected by her size and should never have been an issue. There are many overweight physicians who are not immune to the same social ills as the general population.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  112. Kathy

    Jack, what message is being sent about the debate about her weight is "yes America, employers do use your weight as a discrimination factor when hiring". No thought given to her abilities, her background of being a doctor dedicated to health care for the less well off and not a multi-million dollar practice, and that she is totally qualified only that she needs to lose about 40 pounds. Go take a look at a photo of C. Everett Koop and see that weight has never mattered before until it was a chubby black woman, This is shameful.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  113. Lynda

    Jack, Jack, Jack – you have got to be kidding about this. Being overweight is the unspoken discrimination in this country. While more people are overweight no one is offering practical solutions. Clothes cost more, airlines want to charge more, health insurance companies won't insure us and jobs are harder to get in these tough economic times. So now we have a bright, well qualified African American Woman and someone wants to say this is sending a bad message. Let's not discriminate against Dr. Benjamin because of her weight. Maybe with her qualifications and her experience Dr. Benjamin will be the one to lead those of us who are overweight to find solutions.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  114. Luyi Adesanya

    Wow, what a country that we live in. I mean first people judge people based on religion, then gender, then race, and now bodily appearance? This country really needs to stop generalizing people based on these factors. In MY own personal view, I feel that Ms. Benjamin will do a WONDERFUL job- i mean her credentials prove it. How does her weight or if she is obese or not have anything to do with what type of duty she will do as Surgeon General??? The fact that Ms. Benjamin might be considered "obese" has NOTHING to do with her creditials or the duty she will perform for this country. This country needs to stop antagonizing and degrading people based on these factors I mean we are a diverse country and not everyone is going to look the same. I mean, in short, is there a law that says the surgeon general has to be confided to a certain weight?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  115. Elisabeth Ellenbogen

    What message does it send to appoint
    Dr Benjamin as Surgeon General?
    Loud and clear it states Human Beings
    have value just as we are! When we have
    reached this plateau THEN we address
    many issues, including metabolic
    and dietary health concerns!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  116. Lynn, Columbia, Mo..

    The message I get is that C. Everett Koop could be overweight, but when it comes to women it's a problem. The messages are double standard and male chauvinism.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  117. dlg

    We have spent decades developing legislation which eliminates
    discrimination in any form detracting from employment based
    on merit and qualification.

    I think this discussion about weight in reference to the impecably accomplished and qualified Dr. Regina Benjamin should be tabled.


    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  118. Joyce Lee

    I think this type of statement again fixates on what a person looks like versus whether or not they are qualified for a job. Everett Koop was very visible and was a stocky person but no one said he was overweight and should not be Surgeon General.

    It is a sad state of affairs that this type of question would be aired on TV. It again shows how people can be discriminated against based on what they look like and not their qualifications.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Detroit, Michigan

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  119. Greg - Oh

    There are some people in this country that have just way too much time on their hands. She is too heavy to be surgeon general. That's like saying they should get rid of all fat police officers, firemen, doctors, etc. If the woman has the qualifications to be the Surgeon General then that is what truly matters.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  120. jill

    I think it is ashame we need to worry about her weight, how about her credentials and all she has accomplished. I never hear anyone say this about a man. Let's worry about the wars and the mess America is in, Not if the Surgeon General is overweight or not.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  121. Tai Boyd

    I feel that since our Surgeon General is overweight, she should set an example for the American people and maintain a diet/exercise program. All people that's overweight isn't due to overeating and lack of exercising...medical problems and prescription drugs sometimes plays in the mix.,

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  122. Mr Dean n Seattle

    so what Jack . she's just another example of american.
    I'm 62 retired 12 years 50 pounds over my high school weight smoke a pack a day my BP is normal my ldl is under 200 and I drink 2 martini's a day. and feel great my dad ate all the fat he could consume and he lived to be 100

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  123. Sanford Bell

    I believe this criticism is simply cosmetic, that looking good outweighs experience. Nobody's perfect.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  124. Terry Thomas

    You can't be serious, right?

    Ok, the SG nominee is overweight. Hello America, newsflash... So is most of the country.

    Once again, some of the president's critics bathe themselves in hypocrisy. How many of them are smokers and recovering alchoholics, to name a few issues?

    The new SG is a reflection of our nation, like it or not. Dr. Benjamin's weight is no more significant than the color of her eyes. The fact is she is qualified for the job – and that's the ultimate criteria.

    Would it be different if the SG was a perfect 10 but had a history of drinking? We need to get real America.

    This is government we are talking about, not Hollywood!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  125. Ruckase

    In a world of monkey see monkey do, i don't expect she will get much done on the obesity problem in the U.S.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  126. Kyle A. Lonn III

    What??? I mean really is this the question Mike???? In terms of Dr.Benjamin's credentials vs her weight what in the hell is going on here? I mean is this really relevant? I am totally ashamed of some the questions that arise because of insignificant issues. I mean really???

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  127. Rosemary Abram

    I think that it shows we are having a regular person with the required experience and credentials working for regular Americans. In fact the mear suggestion to me sounds very discriminatory. We are more effective in helping others when we can relate to their situation and plight so I think she could be effective in helping address the issues that the Surgeon General would oversee.

    Not to throw stones but why then did we have a man with poor health, chronic heart problems, serve as the prior Vice President of our country??

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  128. Randy Weekley

    I suppose it is not unreasonable that the Attorney General appear physically fit. And by that logic should it not be reasonable that our congressional leaders appear honest and above moral reproach??
    Dayton, OH

    July 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  129. Steve Canada

    Jack, you have had some time off, and obviously are taking some time to get back on your game...Draft dodgers can start wars in your country, but Surgeon Generals must be trim and fit...WOW. Ahhh, she is qualified, right? Does anything else really matter....

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  130. Kamesha Cobbin

    Yeah, she may be overweight so what? May be she is trying to be healthy anyway? It's noone's business how much she ways. What matters is that she is qualified to do her job and she is qualified. Obama made a good choice. How so ever questions it needs to seriously find some else to worry about. There are other things to worry about than someone' wieght and it's ridiculous the most unrelated thing about a job is how the person looks or in this case ways. At least SHE will do or job unlike Congress.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  131. Moustapha, NY

    Jack, I don't see anything wrong with that. Maybe it underscores the slogan that the US has the hardest working people in the world.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  132. Sweet Pete Burkhardt

    everyones situation is different and the milk shake that may get burned off by one person, adds the extra jiggle on another person. Some need to exercise very little and others need to run sweatin to the oldies twice. Dont let the appearance of a person shape your attitude towards them. She can be the example and make much more of an effect.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  133. Robin

    Do as I say, not as I do!! Fat and healthy, another government oxymoron.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  134. Joanne Ciccone

    Is it because the Surgeon General nominee is black and/or a woman that you ask this silly question. If the nominee were any man this question would have never been asked.

    Her qualifications are amazing. Give this wonderful nominee a chance.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  135. Elise Reynolds

    It says she's human. That's the message.
    I can't think of any human being that is 100% perfect.
    It's an issue I think needs to be addressed privately. This question could lead to targeting minority women.
    She can go on a weight loss program with adults and children in America if she doesn't measure up to America's image.
    It's like the wise latina comment. There wouldn't have to be a wise latina comment if our country lived to it's motto equality for all for the past 233 years There's been white privilege for the past 233 years.
    I don't hear people calling on Bill Bennett, Lou Dobbs who are journalistic role models to lose weight. Why can't we support one another instead of constantly attacking one another day in and day out.
    Where's the role model there?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  136. Renette B.


    Do they want Obama to break the law and discriminate? Hire only thin Republican adulterers and discriminate against all others? I am so sick of the Obama bashing that I cannot take much more.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  137. Tim in Texas

    As far as the president's smoking goes, I have yet to hear anybody come out and say, "My golly, that man has managed to cut his smoking down by 90% in what must be really difficult circumstances, and he hasn't gotten cranky." As a smoker who's trying to quit, he's a terrific role model. Maybe we ought to realize that presidents and doctors are real people with the same personal struggles that the rest of us have.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  138. Jim Stanley

    Having a Surgeon General enter the job overweight is not a concern, but she could set a great example if she would enter a weight reduction program, and champion such efforts, while explaining their health benefits to the public.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  139. Gloria Steinberg

    Overweight? She is also an African American. A black woman. Another black person in his administration. Why comment that she is fat. How about commenting that he isn't picking the most qualified, but the most colorful. How about that, Jack?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  140. Jennifer - NH

    What message does it send if the surgeon general is overweight? A very important message – that being overweight or obese is not a sign of laziness or lack of willpower, but instead reflects how difficult it is in the current environment for people to maintain a healthy weight.

    Our environment has changed in the last forty years. There is the constant sight, smell, and advertisement of high calorie, calorie dense food. There is less free time for people to take care of themselves – to shop at farmer's markets, leisurely cook healthy food, relax and socialize with family and friends, and to participate in healthy activity. People are highly stressed and feel desparate, are quickly grabbing easy food when they can, on the run, and are "stress-eating." I would say her weight reflects what the average American is dealing with these days. In her case, she is a highly successful woman on multiple missions to help others – and like so many people – has not spent the hours it takes every week to carefully plan meals, eat in a relaxed fashion, and perform intense daily exercise.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  141. A.C

    This is crazy Jack! If this woman is qualified why should it matter whether she's 40 pounds overweight. If my memory serve me right wasn't former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop a little chubby himself and nobody questioned whether he was overweight for the job. Is it a double standard here,Jack?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  142. Donna Colorado Springs,Co

    It's very telling to me that noone ever mentioned that the former U.S. surgeon general, C.Everett Koop, was a very large man, yet, because the presidents choice is a woman of a certain size, people have to trash the presidents choice for not "looking the part"! How hypocritical and childish these comments are. Being larger than the "norm" does not mean a person is not healthy. The criteria being used to approve or disaprove should be based on her qualifications, not her appearance.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  143. Susan

    I was appalled at the comments that the new surgeon general should be held up to what amounts to discrimination due to her weight problem. Do we want the message to our already under-cared for patients to be "if you have a health problem and need help, don't come to me?" When did it become OK to hate people with a weight problem, and deny them government employment due to physical problems? Imagine if the issue had been because she was black?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  144. Leona

    Hi Jack,

    I think that some people can not find any thing bad about her, so they want to make her weight an issue. The republicans do not care about us, the care about the status quo. We get caught up in the proganda and not focus on the truth. She is qualified and should be seated. I think people need to wake up and see clear to what is happening. They want control by all means necessary. Let throw it against the wall and see if it stick. It is a race issue, and gender issue. No one else weight was questioned before. What else could it be?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  145. Dianna Glashagel

    The message it's sending is that she's a "human being." For God's sake, this is absolutely ridicules. Joycelyn Elders wore reading glasses, and C Everett Koop was near sided and needed glasses all the time. What kind of message did those people send, they didn't eat carrots? She has the knowledge, intellect, and qualifications to be the surgeon general. How do we know what the other surgeon generals did behind closed doors? Maybe they were closet smokers, or closet eaters. Let's get real, this is nonsense.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  146. Vincent Givens

    C. Everett Coop wasn't excactly skinny. I've never heard this question of the Surgeon General's weight ever asked before. It's the same old crowd who can't REALLY say what bothers them about this administration and it's Cabinet choices. They dig to the bottom of the barrel for insignificant issues that undermine this President.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  147. Ann,Virginia

    Just another attempt from those who enjoy throwing garbage at the Obama administration.Has this question ever come up with any of the "FAT"previous surgeon generals.Smells bad to me!!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  148. Nari Kannan

    It sends a message that we would do this only because she is a woman and an african-american at that! If it were a white male, we would be waxing eloquent only about his qualifications like many overweight surgeon generals before her, rather than asking this kind of an inappropriate question!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  149. Phil

    If this isn't the most ridiculous argument possible!!!!! The messages I see from Dr. Benjamin are her total commitment to her patients, her overwhelming skill set, and the numerous grants, awards, etc. that she has received. She seems clearly versed in the whole issues of health care and is supremely qualified. If the first arguments are against her only focus on the "subjective" issue about her weight, then that says more about the people raising the issue. BTW, I don't think she's fat at all...

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  150. Eileen

    I sure don't remember this being an issue with Koop or any other male S.G. Are only women nominees subject to the girth test?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  151. Brad Monroe

    As the leading spokesperson for health matters in the US she should be in excellent heath otherwise who is he to tell me to lay off the twinkies?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  152. Patti Marietta, GA

    Are you serious? Is there nothing in this world that people will not bring up about a person. The woman is overweight, so what. She is qualified to do the job. Can we please find something GOOD to say about one of President Obama's picks for these important positions?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  153. Debbie Gio, Holbrook NY

    I am so fed up with the same old nonsense. The only message being sent is from sexist Americans. Did anyone ever complain about Everett Koop being a bit overweight? Our President smokes, for goodness sakes! Dr. Benjamin is a marvelous choice for her experience and the creation of medical clinics. Her weight has absolutely nothing to do with her credentials. She's not running for Miss Bikini USA!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  154. Steven

    An overweight Surgeon General might result in better tasting low fat foods.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  155. Michael, Alexandria, VA

    The nominee's weight is not so important as how she deals with the issue of obesity. If she supports aggressive investigation into its causes and consequences, this is a plus. If she continues to support a system that sweeps the causes of obesity under the rug, like bad school lunch menus, a food pyramid that protects the food industry and corn subsidies, it is a minus.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  156. George C. Hill

    Dr. Benjamin represents what this country needs, a caring innovative physician as Surgeon General who has demonstrated the importance of achievement through hard work and education. Her compassion for the underserved will serve as a model as we work to improve healthcare for all in our country.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  157. Gina Ram

    Give me a freaking break! Just because she is what some may call "overweight" in NO WAY implies she is not qualified. If we are SO focused on images then why do we have “overweight” police officers, firemen, military personal, congressmen/women…I think you get the idea. Times have changed and people can be healthy no matter what SIZE they are!

    SERIOUSLY….people need to grow up and focus on the real issues. Get out of the freaking school yards and start thinking like adults. If we focus on her image vs. her abilities then you are no brighter than a 3rd grader who does not want to be friends because look ugly.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  158. leslie maxwell

    Jack, it is bad that the Surgeon General nominee is fat. She will ostensibly be generating policy she can only preach but not practice? She is a particularly lousy role model for African American women who suffer from obesity-related heart disease and diabetes at an alarmingly high rate.One third of our country is obese and it is shocking.Obesity is NEVER healthy, that is a myth.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  159. Yeshiembet Gemaneh

    Unfortunately the Surgeon General happen to be overweight, however, what matters is her capabilities of doing the work and her knowledge. In the past or present, if we assess there are many overweight people who could perform great job. Her weight should not be an issue for her nomination as far as she has the required credentials. Though, this would open an avenue for her to lose weight and also for those who are overweight to educate.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  160. Spencer

    This lady doesn't look bad. She could be overweight, but she could drop some while being surgeon general. She probably pushes herself too hard and doesn't pay as much attention as she could. For some people the answer is not clear how to loose weight. If i were her is would experiment with extract of hemp flowers.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  161. Rudy Melendez

    How can an overweight Surgeon general preach healthy eating habits? Just like Mr. Obama can't tell anybody that smoking is bad for your health.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  162. Cheryl Furst

    Obesity, like alcoholism, is an addiction. Having been obese for many years, I have tried numerous diets and spent hundreds of dollars on weight loss programs. I did not succeed until I joined Overeaters Anonymous (OA) which is a Twelve-Step program. I have lost over eighty pounds which I am successfully maintaining thanks to OA. Dr. Regina Benjamin should lose weight via OA to show this obese nation that it is an addiction that can be overcome. By the way, she looks like she is more that forty pounds overweight.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  163. Clare Pittman

    Jack, the fact that Dr. Benjamin's weight is even an issue SHRIEKS of sexism. Here is a proposal – ask those who question whether her weight should be an issue to do a survey of the weight of all the past (male) Surgeon Generals and see what they come up with. Better yet, check out the weight of the (predominantly male) members of Congress and see how they stack up. Dr. Benjamin needs our encouragement and support, not estimates of her weight.

    Clare Pittman
    Charleston, SC

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  164. Robert Dixon

    So now we are questioning how people appear in the ability to do a job. I am shocked in the year 2009 we seem to be regressing back to the 50's. Who cares if the surgeon general is overweight. when did it become a prerequisite that you have to be in picture perfect health to be surgeon general. Does she know medicine? Then that is the bottom line. Put it like this what if intelligence was a prerequisite for the presidency? We wouldn't have had George Bush as president the past eight years!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  165. David Calderon - GA

    Would it matter if she had a skin disease, some physical issue from a previously unhealthy livestyle? How about someone else running that position who was fighting cancer?
    I'm fairly certain people are not supposed to be descriminated against in this country based on medical conditions or physical characteristics.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  166. Bre

    First you called her overweight, then obese and finally fat. You need to get your facts correct there is a difference between overweight, obese, and morbidly obese. FAT is just plan insulting!!!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  167. JoAnn C in San Diego CA

    Jack, This type of mean-spirtedness is starting to grow around everything Obama. What will come next from this Republican cartel? I believe it's a faction of people who try to find anything negative about an on going administration policy or person. This is just not the news it's almost a propaganda of sorts to tear down another party. They keep coming at him non-stop. Is she another form of Obama's "BIG" government plan? If she was slim and pretty they would say she has to be an air-head. I am also suspicious that it's racial. For God's sake let Obama get his job done.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  168. James In Idaho

    She speaks from experience?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  169. Graham, LA

    I agree that it's unfair to place this on a woman. With all the issue that young girls have to deal with as far as appearance, now we want to tell them that if they are overweight, not only will you NOT be able to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, you can't be Surgeon General either. By the way, how overweight was C. Everett Koop?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  170. Liz in Tennessee

    They will think she is human like the rest of us. As for the role model she will make? How many Americans can name the last Surgeon General? The last most people could probably name would be C. Everett Koop and probably because he makes commercials for Life Alert.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  171. Judy

    So, she's overweight – not obese – but overweight. Maybe she will show that one can be overweight and healthy. If she is eating the right foods and exercising regularly, she is probably healthier than many thin people I know. I have been overweight my entire life – lost a lot once but gained it back. However, I am the healthiest, though heaviest in my family. My thinner siblings have diabetes and I do not. Here are my numbers: fasting blood sugar – 87; HDL cholesterol 55; LDL cholesterol 95. I eat whole grains, no red meat, quit smoking 22 years ago, and exercise but my weight has not budged. So what? I live a full and productive and happy and healthy life. Let's get off this moral high ground built on sand. Let's encourage people to make changes in their diets and their activity levels, but remove the stigma of being overweight. People are more likely to comply when they feel good about themselves than when people are pointing fingers at them and judging and ridiculing them. Then, if they lose weight, fine. If they do not, but are making the changes, fine. I am thrilled with Obama's choice!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  172. Ashley

    I have currently read many books on related topics. I am a young mother, and a very concerned citizen. I am OUTRAGED with the information that I have and am getting madder and madder the more I read. I know that many people (if they knew) would also be mad.

    As far as the Surgeon General being overweight, I think it is obvious that this Big Industry is even brainwashing the “educated” citizens in believing that even in moderation that bad foods are good for you. It is time for the public to get educated and fight this war on our health.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  173. Suellen Harris

    These critics should be embarrassed by their own fat heads. How unfair to suggest that this woman who has worked hard her entire live for the good of others, should be judged by her body image. Her weight does not tell her entire health story or fitness level.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  174. nick

    This is absolute baloney! The false thinking today is that everyone should be thin or anorexic. Doctors & scientists know that there are many body types and many metabolisms. Not everyone is going to be a so-called "perfect weight" nor a "perfect height." It's just silly. To pick on Obama's choice for Surgeon General citing her weight is disingenuous and phony. Many famous people who were great role models didn't fit the current idea of "perfect weight." Consider Ben Franklin; Pres. Grover Cleveland; Pres. Taft; Donald Trump; etc.
    Yes, exercise and a balanced diet should be key in our society, but genetics can't be changed – yet!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  175. duke

    Is there anything thing that the Obama Administration can do to satisfy you and your conservative constituents? It is apparent that the spokespersons speaking the loudest on all of the networks are the ones with little or not political futures. The nominee for Surgeon General is QUALIFIED!!!!!!!!!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  176. Norma

    Hi Jack,

    Surgeon general nominee's weight is not relevant to me, her credentials are! Dr.Everett Koop, one of the past surgeon general was a big man. What impact did that have on the nation? People were paying attention to what he was saying and not on his size. Thank you
    very much.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  177. Curtis Toronto, Canada

    Jack, first of all allow me to say.. Wow! The message I seem to get is that every time the President makes a choice of selection based on people true credentials, it seems like there is always going to be someone scrutinizing and question the Presidents choice.

    What I want to know is those who are questioning and scrutinizing the President, are these skepticism only happening because there is now a black president?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  178. Peeler, K.- Ohio

    This is a ridiculous question! We have no idea what Dr. Bejamin's fitness level may be! She is a large and attractive woman, and she may be in excellent condition for her size and age! Moreover, her personal and professional sacrifice for the health and healing of her patients in Alabama is a model for the nations' doctors and entire healthcare system! She is clearly smart, gifted, dedicated, and has no time for the foolishness of endless attenetion to one's waistline, dress size, and make-up that possesses so many Americans. Another shameful and hidden health problem iin this nation is bulemia, anarexia, and other eating -related disorders...no one mentions those. My hat is off to her for her hard work, courage, sense of service, and loving heart...that is the message that is sent to the American public with her appointment., nothing more, nothing less!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  179. Laura

    It means she is normal, like most of us.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  180. nickrnmaui

    I believe that she is a great choice and will provide greatly needed perspective. What if she were to get "healthier" during her term? Would she be praised and honored, or would you say it was about time? I want people in their jobs who are qualified not good looking. This just adds to the media's hype on looks, fashion, social stance, and behavior. Let the work judge itself. It seems the white collar standard is being over-run by those who overcame major economical hurdles. People with rich parents and life on a platter are out -worked and out -smarted by poor single parented people. Those who came from less achieve more. Learn from expierence.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  181. Mickey Watson

    Selection of Dr. Benjamin for Surgeon General is in my opinion a good choice. Selecting her only gives worthless and arrogant news men some excuse for being on television.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  182. Tony Garcia

    So what if she's overweight, the question is: Is she competent. I beleive if anybody gets trhrough the nomination process for a position like this the person must demostrate the appropriate competence, character, professionalism and above all the proven ability to perform skillfully her experience and know how.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  183. Paula

    Yes, she is overweight, but she should be judged on her credentials and past performances not her weight. I am a 56 year old female and I can say I am definetely overweight! I just had my annual checkup and my Dr. was very glad to tell me that my tests were great no high blood pressure, no diabetes, no high cholestrol and I only take 2 medications for asthma! That's pretty amazing for someone my age and weight. I know I need to lose weight and exercise more and I plan on doing that to feel better. So yes, she may be overweight but do not condemn her for that! If she is the best candidate than she should be the next Surgeon General!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  184. Roy W.

    Are you kidding me? To consider what a candidate looks like as a criteria for employment is a very slippery slope to go down... Please let's not go there.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  185. Marilyn

    The message this sends is that we as a nation understands that NONE are perfect, we all have something we would want to change in ourselves, it also sends the message that we understand that we do not know the real cause of this problem since we are not her and are not walking in her shoes, and that we as a Nation do not need to be so judgmental in such ridiculous nit picky ways, she seems to be a wonderful and knowledgeable pick who truly care for others and does something about the lack in this world. Have we looked at "all" the others in this Nation that are overweight that are in prominent positions? Why pick on only one? NOW, the real question, What can we each do to follow her caring example???

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  186. Jack - Lancaster, OH

    Mr. Cafferty:

    Several of us agree on this perspective, based on other weight challenged ladies, that we have evaluated her and decided there are TWO "hotties" in there and we challenge her to bring one out ! This would overcome the frustrational directive of "Do as I say and not as I do"! message. We will be looking for her metamorphosis.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  187. Ken in NC

    The message I get is that she is over weight like me and needs to lose weight like me and I get the message. The question you should be asking is "Are you willing to be the one to take the future of your health into your own hands and tell a Big Black Woman that she is overweight"?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  188. Paul Boucher

    It seems the criticism of Pres Obama can reach no limit. Dr. Benjamin, though somewhat overweight, looks healthy to me. Healthier than many of the old white men i sure are behind the insults.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  189. coonerrific

    This is absurd. When did we start modeling the behavior of political leaders and their appointed officials because of their weight? Many people in all professions (including reporters, TV anchors, business leaders, athletes, and others) are overweight. Although they may not set a good example for the rest of us, they perform their jobs. The best role models for health management are families. The Surgeon General should not be castigated for her weight, instead she should be uplifted for her accomplishments and contributions to the health of others.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  190. Andrew Kingsbury

    It will send a negative/hippocritical message to the American people. However, if she has the potential be great as the "SG" she should be instated but should pledge to lose some of the weight. That transition would make her a great role model.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  191. Matt from Michigan

    Seriously, did anyone ask if C Everett Koop was overweight, which he was?

    This is a NON issue, Her credentials are what matters. Is it because She is a woman, is it because she is black, or is it because Obama appointed her?


    July 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  192. Jeffrey Cohen from LA, California

    I dont believe that it sends a negative message. I have read into this woman's background and its her life experiences and her determination to make the U.S. a more healthy place that will make her a positive influence in her new role.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  193. Frederick H. Forschler


    I would hope that congress would be more interested in someones mind instead of their body. But, since congress is dominated by men of questionable moral authority, the bodys have it.

    I don't care what someones body looks like, none of us our perfect. I would rather see a bunch of fat bodys than the bunch of fat heads running things.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:22 pm |
  194. VJ

    Jack – how astonishing of the citizens who are overly concerned about her weight and not her work. I remember when Dr. C. Everett Koop was appointed as Surgeon General under Reagan. I don't think he was 6'2, 225 and buff. But I don't recall any attention to his weight, it clearly was about his achievements, and insights that he WILL bring to the office.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  195. Fredd in MI


    Is she healthy? Is she a diabetic? How is her blood pressure? Does she have cancer? How about HDL/LDL cholesterol? BMI?

    There are countless people who weigh more than some arbitrary number who are otherwise in very good health. The cemetaries are full of folks who appeared as examples of what a healthy person should look like; the ones who when viewed in their coffins elicited the comment, "Doesn't he/she look good".

    July 22, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  196. Henrie

    Being overweight hasn't hurt all the male white politicians we have. With so many fighting against a public single payer health plan and wanting to delay it until it gets forgotten- they sure aren't worried about the publics health/obesity.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  197. leen

    I was impressed with her credentials and experience. Since the health care reform will deal mainly with the unensurred and poor she has a strong understanding of what is needed. I think the question should be is she healthy? Does she know what to do to help people who have weight problems understand and deal with the issues? Not everyone who is at their weight is healthy. Healthy people have heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes. So I think it goes further than her appearance. Her goal is to help provide health care.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  198. eric

    unless there is actualy fat on the brain, what does it matter?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  199. Jenna

    What message does it send if the surgeon general of the U.S. is overweight?

    Well she's not obese. So what does it matter if she is still carrying her baby weight? Most women do in this world.

    Roseville CA

    July 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  200. Sara

    Since when did a person's weight become a deciding factor in determening their qualifications for a position?. So what if Dr. Regina Benjamin is overweight. There are hundreds of different medical conditions that any given person may have that aren't visible on the surface. Unfortunately, being overweight is not a medical condition that can be conceled. One cannot deny that a heavy set person is more likely to have medical complications over someone who is fit. However, there are plenty of people who are naturally thin who do not live healthy lifestyles either. If President Obama had appointed someone who fit the latter profile, the issue of "unhealthiness" would be non-existent. If Dr. Regina Benjamin is qualified for the position, the job should be hers. Period.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  201. Barbara Giordano

    I think it's sad given all the problems in this country we're focusing on Dr Benjamin's body weight and not her qualifications.

    Being overweight is not always synonymous with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and increased insurance rates. In fact, I take exception to the sterotype. I am a overweight person in my mid-life. Regardless of that status, I'm a relatively healthy specimin. I do not suffer the maladies many people automatically assume I should based on the visual assessment of the girth around my midriff.

    Genetics and lifestyle choices such as smoking, unhealthy food choices, stress play a large role on the diseases that adversely effect people. Let us not make the overweight person the "fall guy" for high insurance rates. Or assume for that matter the overweight person is unhealthy based on their body weight alone.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  202. Norman Hankins

    If the surgeon general is able to actually lose weight while serving,she could inspire millions of people to follow her example.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  203. nickrnmaui

    Also if you go to a hospital's smoking section, majority are nurses, cardiologists, Doctors! Does'nt mean they have bad advise or poor training. Just that everyone is human and we live in a country where freedom is a major staple of our rights.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  204. Twaine From Jamaica

    You know its funny because when i first saw her i said the same thing but she has to be qualified unless she would be in her old job, now her new job is lose weight or maybe not or maybe she's just fat and healthy.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  205. Paul Sams

    Paul in Lincoln,AL. I am a fat Alabama white guy and the comments about her weight are really just another way of saying "Oh God, another black person!" I grew up in segregated Birmingham and I "know the code." I'm sure that if we looked at past surgeon generals would reveal similar imperfections. This lady has an impressive record, she has given so much help to the poor and under served and the best the bigots can come up with is that she's fat? Why does it feel like 1963 again?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  206. KC

    I can't believe this is even a talking point. Crazy. Maybe it means she was chosen for her qualifications? What message did the US send to the world when we re-elected a moron in 2004? That would be a fair question to ask, not this one.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  207. Ken Groves

    jack, i am an unwise white canadian male that lives in texas. i think it sends many messages. one is that this is about who can do the job, not what they look like in a bikini(it isn't a beauty pagent)! also for all we know her weight might be a result of a glandular problem and even though she is a doctor she might not be able to afford the tests and meds(within the existing system) to fix the problem!!! if she is qualified who cares just get the job at hand done.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  208. Barbara

    Dr. Benjamin is a product of what many of us are subjected to in today's society: a stressfull lifestyle while helping others in our professions. However, It seems that her body structure suggests a very large bust size as opposed to being that much overweight over the rest of her body.
    But why do those who are opposed to President Obama seem to be opposed to everything he does or says? There seems to be a propaganda machine grinding daily agains him and his administration. Is this America, one nation, indivisible? Or are there those who stay up late a night plotting destructive talking points?

    Huntsville, Alabama

    July 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  209. Patricia

    The surgeon general under Reagan was overweight I did not remember hearing anyone talking about his weight. Why is that every time a woman is nominate for any office; she is always treating differently than a man. I do not ever hear anyone talking about the weight or the way a man looks. I believe that no matter who President Obama pick the Republic Party will not be satisfied.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  210. frankie

    She is only there to make health care decisions, although she should take care of herself, it is out of line the way people are attacking her, are people that stupid that they can't see that they are fat and they have failed themselves, because americans have become lazy and haven't joined a gym. Wake-up America, look at yourself first before you criticizes someone else.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  211. Arcy S.

    Not much of one, Jack. It simply means we have someone in that position who resembles most Americans – FAT. We're becoming less diverse all the time. Unfortunately, the real reason for the ire over her selection by President Obama has more to do with her world view than her shape. She does after all have conservative leanings. And in todays world, one's political ideology plays second fiddle to nothing – regardless of how hard one may have worked or barriers over come.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  212. KEN in Pinon Hills, California

    Now days I find thin people as abnormal, and fat people seem to be the norm. It looks like congress better past a health bill, it appears millions are going to need it.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  213. Harold E Lindsey Jr

    I think that if Dr Regina Benjamin is qualified, and she certainly seems to be, her weight should not prevent her from assuming the position. That would just be another form of discrimination! Is she happy with herself? If she is not, she should get busy losing weight. If she is happy with herself, please tell me, why we should not be happy for her? Our lives are about the personal chioces we make. Obesity is obviously a concern, but people must be educated and motivated to make the lifestlye changes necessary themselves. Personal choice and personal responsibility are the keys. I think she would be great!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  214. Grace

    I am shocked that so many emails think the surgeon generals obesity, is making a mountain out of a mole hill. That is NOT a mole hill...it is a mountain. She most certainly does not look healthy and I would like to take a 6 block jog with her to prove it...and I don't even jog! We are to do as she says, not as she does...that didn't work on my when I was 16 and my dad smoked and it doesn't work for me at age 50 either!!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  215. Scott in Sacramento

    Maybe she is overweight due to medication(s) she is taking, you know, the medication(s) with risky side effects that cause us to take anti-side effect medications that cause legalized drug addiction, which benefits the pharmaceutical and insurance companies bottom lines, or the shelf life extending and artificial sweetening garbage (high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils), which is enabled by the FDA. If so, then she is the perfect candidate to correct this national disgrace with our health and food choices.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  216. Dennis North Carolina

    weigh depends on the person and what you say is overweight for a person.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  217. Ro from Ohio

    Credentials should be the ONLY consideration for any office or post. Should we disqualify on Hair Color, Height, Muscle Size, Crossed Eyes, Nostril Size, Neck Length, Baldness, Whiteness of Teeth etc. ? How about Trouser Waist Size? We might have to get rid of alot of Senators and Congressmen. If being overweight by 40 lbs. disqualifies a person, then what about unknown ailments? The beginning of Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, Athsma, etc. to name just a few. I am so "sick" of Congressmen and their PETTY concerns. We can find a reason to get rid of all in office if we become the "Size and Condition Police" I think there is the beginning of Insanity in Washington !!!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  218. Janet Hitti

    Hi Jack,

    Her character is so much more important than her dress size. She has given of herself time and time again, that counts for somehing.
    Mortgaging her oun home for the health clinic, shows concern or her patients, not too many people would do that.

    Lots of healthy overweight people.

    Stay well.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  219. Rick Medina,OH


    This question suggests a slow news day. This lady is apparently talented and willing ... that's good enough for me. Shame on you and CNN to remind the world that she is slightly 'super-sized.'

    Rick, Medina, OH

    July 22, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  220. mitchell

    if 58 milliion people were willing to accept a 73 year old male with a history of cancer as the leader of the U.S , They can't possible be skeptical of a 52 year old female carrying some extra pounds, worst case senarion you can lose weight..

    July 22, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  221. Charles from Roswell, Georgia

    How dare you are, Jack. I don't even question my wife's weight!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  222. Joan

    She has the credentials to be a fine Surgeon General. Get over the weight issue. Who cares!


    July 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  223. Elisha

    the message it sents is that we all need to work togather to combat overweight issues in the US, by eating healthy and exercise.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  224. Michele

    By the looks of her photo, I'd say she was a size 14-16...that is not obese by most of our country's standards...or is our fixation with blond, busty, and Barbie changing that opinion? It could be that she gives more time to others and not enough time for herself.... and that doesn't sound like a Barbie-brain to me. I'm inclined to believe her dress size is much less important than the size of her brain power. Fight the urge to discredit women by their looks, people.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  225. Nat Turner

    This "so-called" complaint about Dr. Benjamin has NOTHING at all to do with her size. It's good ol' American racism rearing its head!! Out of all this woman has accomplished, i.e. using her own credit cards to open an office to help poor people, etc, these clowns are talking about her size. I think the first thing that needs to be done is a revamping of the "standard" used for deciding what's "normal" or when one is obese. African American women, as other races, have different body builds. I for one, do NOT find the pale, bony, skinny, emaciated, anorectic look to be healthy nor beautiful. I hope Dr. Benjamin does NOT lose as much as ONE pound to appease these back-woods bigots!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
  226. Mado in Ontario

    Hi Jack. As a 70 year old retired manager, who has been somewhat overweight for 55 of those 70 years, I want to say SO WHAT!! if the new Surgeon General is a bit overweight?. Is she qualified in every other way for the job? Look, I played basketball, softball, volleyball and curling and walked miles and miles to stay in good physical shape while never hitting the scales at less than 160 pounds. So I know what can be accomplished even while carrying some extra weight . What she has accomplished in her own life and what she has done for people who needed help should be enough to show that she very likely can handle this job with ease. Has the bulk of Bill Bennett kept him from a job in TV? Oh I forgot. He is a man and he is white, so he is automatically qualified. There are not enough rocks in the US under which to hide all the racists who appear on TV.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  227. Alice

    It made me VERY sad today to think that there is so much more Negativeness in the world since Obama became President. It doesn't matter that Dr. Benjamin give of herself "EVERYDAY" to help people. I'm sure the patients didn't say "Oh you're FAT " ,you can't wait on me !!
    What has this world come too ? And you wonder why we're going through soooo MUCH !!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  228. Matthew Enthoven

    It's unfair to look at her and immediately say that she's a bad candidate due to her weight. Weight, while important, is not the deciding factor in your overall health. You can still be a generally healthy person that is overweight. Everyone has at least one health vice or health obstacle to overcome. Maybe this is hers.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  229. Andrea in Raleigh, NC


    Unless government positions are handled differently, not giving her the job because she may or may not be 40lbs overweight is a violation of the equal employment policy. She is highly qualified to hold this position. I wish this country could be a little more open-minded about female government employees!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  230. randy in indiana

    Denying the new surgeon general nominee based on her weight would be considered discrimination in any other employment situation in America and it should be in this case also. What next? Should all doctors be required to meet a physical standard? Should teachers be required to be parents? When will the country that prides itself on the principle that all are created equal, finally start thinking that way?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  231. randy riney poseyville, in

    It means she will automatically have one third of the people behind her. Fat people always stick together Jack.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  232. Jennifer

    I don't believe you were attacking overweight women. I believe your comment would have been made regardless of gender. Why do so people have to automatically make a stink about gender and race rather than simply respond to the issue at hand. The better response would be to ask is a person who appears to be overweight necessarily unhealthy? The SG is a very qualified person. Perhaps she excercises regularly and this is the weight that right for her. Isn't that what all the experts have been saying?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  233. Janet in Kansas City

    It sends a message that your qualifications are more important than your weight. Perhaps she will decide to lose the weight. If she does, it will be a great example of her can do attitude, and a great role model.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  234. Dana Meier

    When will it happen that people are judged by who they are, their intellect, what they can bring to the table, where their heart and souls lie? Instead they are judged by their gender, size, shape and color of their skin. This country is becoming more superficial instead of less, and it is embarrassing.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  235. Michael M Phoenix AZ

    There are plenty of reasons why someone is overweight, and it is not necessarily due to lack of exercise or poor diet. It can also be caused by the genetic makeup of individuals. Someone who is too "skinny" would also be considered a bad choice wouldn't he or she?

    July 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  236. Mil

    This question seems inane after looking at the picture of Dr. Benjamin. The woman is a bit overweight, not obese. I think the question should be "What message does it send when the media focuses on such trivial matters rather than whether or not a person is qualified for the job?" In my opinion, the fact that Dr. Benjamin may be overweight shouldn't disqualify her for the Surgeon General position.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  237. Mary C. Taylor

    There is no message sent if the U.S. Surgeon General is overweight. There are so many people in every profession overweight and that does not stop them from doing their jobs. Measure Dr. Benjamin on her talent and contributions to health care and not on some narrow perception of an ideal image. There are so many people who are obsessed with being thin and skinny people. Some of these people are not any healthier. It is all in eye of the beholder. Most importantly, Dr. Benjamin has the background and empathy to do her job.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  238. Mike in Colorado

    Jack, Some people are not skinny.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  239. Pat Brown

    Example, example, example. We teach our children by EXAMPLE.
    It is what 'we' do not what 'we' say that is the what people follow.
    No Surgeon General should be overweight just as no Surgeon General should smoke. Overeating is what is killing Americans with diabetes, cancer, etc. and causing our health care system to be unnecessarily burdened. Learn some self control and keep your weigh down. Say no to 'fried' foods, sugar. Stop getting into those automatic carts in the foods stores – walk! It's hard for all of us but
    we need to learn discipline. Sorry, no overweight Surgeon Generals.
    P.S. I am also not voting for Chris Christie (NJ) for the same reason.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  240. Sue

    The message should be that compentent, intelligent people do not all look alike - people are different and each should be valued for his or her own accomplishments and abilities. People who believe that only the thin can be healthy and useful to society are as much bigots as people who believe that only born-again Christians should be citizens or that only those of white Western European ancestry should be allowed to vote.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  241. Elisha

    the message it sends is that we all need to work togather to combat overweight issues in the US, by eating healthy and exercise.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  242. Annie, Atlanta

    Jack, thin people aren't allowed to ask this question.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  243. hughes

    I recently had an extensive medical checkup and found all my levels
    such as cholestorol and so on excellent, blood pressure, heart rate all excellent, I work out daily and am very healthy, oh by the way I am female and about 40 pounds overweight. .

    July 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  244. B. Szakacs

    Being overweight is an all American problem. Look around Jack, and yes we should do something about it.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  245. Helen M. Cianca

    Jack, yes, the wrong message is sent unless she goes on a diet and gets a leaner look (like you, Jack). If Obama had picked my fav, Dr. Howard Dean, you wouldn't be asking the question. My hubby says to pass the buttered biscuits as i write.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  246. Patricia

    The surgeon general under Reagan was overweight I did not remember hearing anyone talking about his weight. Why is that every time a woman is nominate for any office; she is always treating differently than a man. I do not ever hear anyone talking about the weight or the way a man looks. I believe that no matter who President Obama pick the Republic Party will not be satisfied

    White Plains, MD.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  247. Tyna Key


    I am a 60 year old woman, with a personal training education.. I don't look like I did when I was 30, nor do I try to. However, I am healthy, I exercise regularly, know what foods are good for my body, fso I can live without disease for as long as I can.

    It is not a matter of our Surgeon General looking good. It is that she should be promoting health, and the behaviors it takes to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

    I don't understand how she could be considered a healthy person since her weight to body fat ratio makes her obese. How does her lifestyle, which lead to her obesity, fit within the President's plan for cutting medical costs, Obesity is our biggest national health problem. It contributes to a myriad of health issues such as heart disease and high blood pressure, If the President wants to cut health care costs, don't nominate a person for Surgeon General who has a lifestyle that promotes obesity.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  248. Rob of Brooklyn

    For God's sake–your making it sound like she's 500lb's. So what she likes to eat. At least she doesn't have the awful whiskers like some of her predecessors

    July 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  249. Pat Vaughn

    Maybe Obama has an ulterior motive... having Dr. Benjamin set the example needed for the public by showing losing weight can be done. She needs to set a goal of losing 25 lbs. over the next year and goad the public to do so, at the same time.
    Who wants another skinny, perfect body example for us to be depressed about? Give us a true representative of our weight problem in this country. Go Doc.

    Pat Vaughn, Crossville, TN

    July 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  250. Mike

    What does it matter if the surgeon general needs to be an exemplary?
    This ongoing problem within our culture is attributed to many factors: the consumption of fast food, due to our constant commutting to and from the job, stress, due to attempting to make ends meet, not enough walking, due to our automobiles and lastly, genetics.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  251. Charles

    Hi Jack,

    As a health insurance professional, it's imperative for me to look the part to be impactful to my customers in the marketplace. My credibility would be SHOT if I was overweight or looked unhealthy.

    As the Nation's top DOC, who's responsible for selling/promoting healthy lifestyles and preventive measures to Americans, she need to look the part and set the example to be effective. NO EXCUSES!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  252. Brenda

    I think that this is a biased question and points to the prejudice that exists against overweight people. She is a reflection of her society and will only give her more insight into the subject of obesity. WILL WE REQUIRE someone's outward appearance to dictate whether or not they will perform adequately in a particular position? If that's her only fault, she will do a good job.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  253. Brenda Murphy

    I think that this is a biased question and points to the prejudice that exists against overweight people. She is a reflection of her society and will only give her more insight into the subject of obesity. WILL WE REQUIRE someone's outward appearance to dictate whether or not they will perform adequately in a particular position? If that's her only fault, she will do a good job.
    Greensboro, NC

    July 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  254. Jack Hedden

    If the Surgeon General of the U.S. does not set an example for children, young people, and adults, what does that say to the people of our nation? The General should be fit both physically and mentally. I do not think that is too much to ask of who is supposedly in charge of improving the health of the American people.

    July 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  255. Julie

    what does it signal? that she is from the south, of course... Everyone knows the obesity rates in the south are off the charts...

    BUT compared to her (soon to be) constituents: she's pretty lithe, if you ask me!

    And of course skills, and ADVOCACY (what a concept for Surgeon General!) should matter more... I believe she can (as mentioned) better empathize (sorry for th dirty word, GOP) w/ the folks she will be in office to help. I'm sure she struggles with the issue, and will address it - in a constructive and helpful way

    July 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm |