Vivek Murthy Nomination Hearing Feb 2014

Will the New Surgeon General Be an Obesity Activist?

I Am Here for My FutureThe new Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy, told the senators in his confirmation hearing that obesity will be a signature issue for his four-year term. The nature of the confirmation process  demands that a nominee say as little as possible. The nomination dragged on for a year mainly because he was on record prior to his nomination supporting efforts to reduce deaths due to gun violence.

So we are left to guess what his commitment to addressing obesity will really mean.

We know very little about his views on obesity. The Boston Globe tells us that his refrigerator — when it’s not empty — holds carrots, unflavored almond milk, and high-protein grains. His friends tell of a healthy lifestyle with daily yoga. There’s no reason for either hope or despair based on his fridge.

We know that he has the heart of an activist. He only worked part-time at Brigham and Women’s Hospital so that he would have time to start advocacy organizations like VISIONS Worldwide and Doctors for America. Other than thinking that guns can hurt people, he seems to have passion for health system reform and HIV/AIDS. He has spoken passionately about the impact of stigma in mental health. Maybe he’ll understand why stigma is the key roadblock for progress against obesity.

Murthy is clearly a smart, caring, and energetic physician. He may well figure out what’s needed to make a change in the slow pace of progress against obesity and leave a mark. Or he may give us more of the same — encouragement to eat better, move more, and hope the problem fades.

The Obesity Society is obviously hopeful that he will jump in and make a difference. In a statement issued upon Murthy’s confirmation, President Nikhil Dhurandhar said, ““We look forward to working with Dr. Murthy to ensure his term leaves a historical mark on obesity research, education and access to care.” Let’s do this.

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” — Elbert Hubbard

Click here to read more about Murthy from the Boston Globe. Click here to read more from Politico.

Vivek Murthy Nomination Hearing Feb 2014, public domain photograph from the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

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