One of the more ridiculous charges bubbling to the surface following a presidential appointment has focused on the fact that Dr. Regina Benjamin wears a size 18 and is therefore unqualified to be Surgeon General.

One of the more ridiculous charges bubbling to the surface following a presidential appointment has focused on the fact that Dr. Regina Benjamin wears a size 18 and is therefore unqualified to be Surgeon General.


We may have an obesity epidemic — or maybe it’s just an obsession — but Dr. Benjamin’s weight, or anyone’s weight, should not be a work qualification. Better to disqualify the fat heads of this world than the fat tummies.


A family physician, she has both run her own clinic in the ethnically diverse Bayou La Batre community of Southern Alabama and made house calls. In addition to holding an MD degree from the University of Alabama, she holds a masters in business administration from Tulane University. Her career has been characterized by academic and professional success and recognition as she continues to serve her family practice clinic’s patients.


To prejudge her qualifications or her ability to direct policy to remedy the nation’s health issues because she is overweight says more about those raising the question than it does about her. It also belies an ignorance about what constitutes “healthy.” There are thousands of people who carry extra pounds and still function as productive adults and live long, happy lives. Genetics may have more to do with big hips than Big Macs and to disqualify someone with Dr. Benjamin’s qualifications because of a dress size belies an ignorance that is the foundation of all prejudice.


It’s fair to examine her philosophies and practices. It’s despicable to examine her caloric intake.


Family physicians play a key role in our oft-maligned but excellent health care system. They are the gatekeepers for millions of Americans who face minor and major health care challenges each and every day. They are the medical professionals with the most patient contact. They carry the heavy responsibility of first diagnosis and determining treatment options. They are on the front line of the prevention effort and provide an invaluable liaison between patient and providers of specialty treatment.


To have an accomplished, business-savvy family physician serving the nation as Surgeon General is certainly more important than her girth.


Freeport Journal-Standard