Tag Archives: obesity

Gupta’s Influence Trumps Inexperience

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Few would dispute that the Obama campaign represented the ultimate confluence of media and politics. The announcement that CNN chief health correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the leading contender to be the next Surgeon General has furthered Obama’s mastery of media in promoting his message. Many of my colleagues in the medical field have derided this choice, pointing to the fact that Gupta’s training as a neurosurgeon, coupled with his relative youth, makes him unqualified to be the leading spokesperson on public health issues like diabetes, obesity, and coronary artery disease. However, I believe that Gupta’s potential appointment actually has the potential to be a brilliant choice. Gupta’s background makes him uniquely suited to the position of Surgeon General. Over the last few decades, the Surgeon General’s role has morphed into the chief communicator of public health matters. Other than the tenure of C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general, in recent times, has become a largely invisible position. Koop stood out because he had the charisma to attract an audience, and the ability to explain complex issues to Americans in terms they could understand. In short, he was a transformative figure who millions of Americans could identify by sight alone. I suspect most Americans would be hard-pressed to identify the current Surgeon General. In contrast, millions of Americans invite Gupta into their home on a nightly basis; he has proven he can communicate in laymen’s terms. And while most public health issues wouldn’t ordinarily be handled by a neurosurgeon, Gupta would serve as a spokesperson for these matters, not the clinician – a key difference. The choice clearly demonstrates Obama’s continued mastery of not just the roles media and communication currently play, but their potential in shaping our lives. – Matt Buchalter

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Whoring Out Obesity

Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, triglycerides, coronary artery disease, stroke and sleep apnea isn’t incentive enough for Americans to stay active. According to the CDC, obesity rates have risen “dramatically” over the last 20 years, with most states reporting rates of 25% or more in 2007. Bill Bryson once wrote that American culture has become so lazy that we drive a half-mile to use a gym treadmill. And he’s right: we even avoid activity when we exercise. We can blame television, video games, the Internet and junk-food diets for our expanding waistlines. But one company believes it found a solution — that the key lies in sexual innuendo. The laundry list of as-seen-on-TV products has never included a product so outlandish and disturbing than Flirty Girl Fitness, which recently begun penetrating (pun intended) television air space. The company is marketing a line of exercise products and DVDs that make Suzanne Somer’s Thighmaster look wholesome. The products include routines that encourage women, and young girls, to practice slutty dance routines with stage props like medicine balls and chairs. Hmmm, is that why Britney Spears looks so good? It also includes instructions for pole dancing maneuvers that enable users to act out their wildest stripping fantasies. Why such products have reached the mainstream is beyond comprehension, and we’re in a sorry state if this is what it takes to stay fit. If a slew of health problems, mental well-being or self-confidence isn’t enough to inspire Americans to get off their ass, maybe the dream of being a whore will.