Gupta out of Running for Surgeon General

Yee fuckin’ haw. Zuzu e-mailed me earlier with the news that Sanjay Gupta has withdrawn himself from consideration for the Surgeon General gig. Both she and Fillyjonk have written about what a fat-hating tool he is, if you’re unclear on why this is a good thing.

Of course, as Liss points out, it’s highly unlikely that whoever does end up as Surgeon General will be one whit less Chicken Littleish about THE OBESITY CRISIS BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA. But I’ll drink a wee tiny glass of champagne for this one anyway.

45 thoughts on “Gupta out of Running for Surgeon General

  1. Good news, but another possible pick has this to say. Reposted from http://www.bigfatblog.com::

    Obesity itself IS a risk factor that doubles the death rate, independent of fitness.[4] Obesity itself does predispose to many serious diseases and premature disability. Obesity itself matters for health, personal and public. Overweight and obesity are difficult to prevent and to treat in a culture awash in cheap, flavorful, high-calorie food and drink. But it can be done.[5] For the great majority of Americans who are overweight or obese, the command…STOP EATING…is part of the correct answer. Genes do matter, for some more than others, but the gene pool has not changed enough over the past 50 years to explain our obesidemic. What have changed are the mass overconsumption and underexpenditure of calories creating the chronic imbalance that gradually builds obesity. STOP EATING does not mean Bataan Death March starvation, but it does mean slow down, count your calories, in and out, cut your portion sizes, miss some servings and some meals, fast sometimes, add fresh vegetables, get on the scale every day, walk to work, change your positive caloric balance to a negative one, pick a sensible diet, and stay on it.[5] Ask your fellow men and women in all walks of life and commerce to help you help them in this healthy joint venture. Your health does matter, and you matter and you can do better. And, to the enablers of obesity, whether your motivations are kindness, habit, or profit, I say: STOP IT. Stop enabling disease. That’s my opinion. I’m Dr. George Lundberg, Editor of MedGenMed.

    Seriously fellow fatties. STOP EATING. Miss servings and fast. (isn’t that practically pro-ana behavior he’s insisting on)? Walk to work, even if it takes you an hour to get there! Because we are a disease and we need to be stopped!

    UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  2. STOP EATING does not mean Bataan Death March starvation, but it does mean slow down, count your calories, in and out, cut your portion sizes, miss some servings and some meals, fast sometimes, add fresh vegetables, get on the scale every day, walk to work, change your positive caloric balance to a negative one, pick a sensible diet, and stay on it.[

    This sentence just kind of comes back and bites itself on the ass.

    Sigh.

  3. Fast?!? Holy shit. I love how quickly it goes from “hey, have some vegetables” to “the reason you’re fat is because you eat food ever.” Look everybody, I’m not saying you need to reenact a war crime that killed1/3 of the people forced to endure it to be thin, just you know, stop eating like 50% of your meals. You’re welcome! (THIS IS NOT A LICENSE TO EAT THREE MEALS A DAY)

    Has a weird resonance with the “no fat concentration camp victims” idiots. But anyway: yay yay no sanjay!

  4. but the gene pool has not changed enough over the past 50 years to explain our obesidemic.

    More white-boy clownshoes there. Does he not realize that the “gene pool” (i.e. the demographics of the entire U.S. population) gets less Caucasian and less white Anglo-Saxon Protestant every single year? Has he never heard of immigration?

    Also, has he never heard of psych-med weight gain? I could walk ten miles in a snowstorm and ten miles back every single day and still be fat, as long as I have to be on these stupid drugs. Which I probably will be as long as fatphobes like him continue to run the world. Oooh, the irony.

  5. And really, fasting? Fucking fasting? And we’re supposed to get work done how?

    Oh, right. Being thin is more important than having a life.

  6. I remember when my Mom used to fast 2 days a week (urgh, insane 80s diet program) and really, it’s a good thing she wasn’t working at the time. She could barely manage to drive to the store without veering off the side of the road.
    Personally if I haven’t eaten in more than 12 hours or so I may as well be drunk in terms of cognitive functioning.

  7. Oh yeah, the fasting thing. Uh, doc, I get this little thing called hypoglycemia if I do that. Ever heard of it? If I fast, I go to the hospital.

    Besides, it’s useless as a tool for weight loss. But it’s great for weight gain, if you want to do that; slows down the metabolism so your next binge will have maximal impact. Ask any sumo wrestler.

  8. @ Meowser – Yep. In retrospect I actually wonder if it was my teenage brush with anorexia that gave me hypoglycemia in the first place and hey, funny thing, when I stopped dieting and calorie counting forever and went back to eating regular meals the hypoglycemia stopped being an issue.

    Gee, it’s like just not eating is bad for people or something.

  9. Jesus, CassandraSays. That’s scary. I hadn’t even thought of that, the idea that people could be “diet drunk drivers.” But hey, we’re not supposed to drive anyway if we’re fat, right? We can just walk 20 miles to see Grandma, carrying her crystal punchbowl all the way — it’s good for us!

  10. Ooh, obesidemic. Good one. This guy sounds like even more of a douche than Sanjaya.

    Kate and I had my favorite Twitter conversation ever when the idea was first brought up, which went something like:

    Me: Sanjay Gupta for surgeon general? What the fuck, are we twelve?
    Kate: I guess the Australian dude from House wasn’t available.

  11. Do people realize how ablist “just walk more, geez!” is? I’d love to walk more; I feel great when I walk a lot. I also have recurring knee problems that makes it difficult to walk long distances a good amount of the time. And this isn’t nearly as bad as many other people’s mobility issues. (Surely things like limited mobility have nothing to do with weight gain, of course.)

  12. (Surely things like limited mobility have nothing to do with weight gain, of course.)

    People like Dr. Lundberg think it does, but they think the fat always comes before the disability, because all fat people’s disabilities are caused by the fat. Y’know, like fat is this supervirus or something that eats all other possible medical, environmental, or mechanical causes for illness or disability, so it can be a standalone evil. BAH HA HA!

  13. If you fast and slow down, all things being equal, you’ll come to a complete halt.

    As for obesidemic, it does not match my twin favourites, obesifacient and obezoid.

  14. Me: Sanjay Gupta for surgeon general? What the fuck, are we twelve?
    Kate: I guess the Australian dude from House wasn’t available.

    I kind of want a t-shirt that says “House for Surgeon General” now. At least he had that episode that proved the woman with WLS would have been healthier fat than she was thin.

    It’s so sad that a) a fictional doctor would be a better choice than any of the real ones and b) the front-runner for some time was pretty much only there (I speculate) because he was famous for being CNN’s go-to health douche.

    How about the woman that runs Junkfood Science? Does she have the right credentials? I mean, other than the one about hating fatties.

  15. also, re: “just walk more, geez!”

    Outside of the obvious ableism, what about those of us that already walk everywhere and are still fat? I mean, I live in NYC and so my modes of transportation are the subway and my feet.

    I know, I know, skip the subway and walk from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side for work, duh! Or maybe I should run to campus instead of just walking! Bite me.

  16. Perhaps its time to look at the diet mentality of the last 50 years instead of the gene pool for causes in the change in how people look. It is NOT a coincidence that when America become obsessed with dieting that more people started gaining weight… I personally have wrecked my metabolism through ED behaviors. And guess what- I am okay with that… I can’t undo the past but I can look and feel great and be healthy despite the fact that I’ll never be thin again. I just think it is absurd that a front runner for surgeon general thinks that the very thing that caused the statistics to rise is the way to bring it down. What an idiot.

  17. change your positive caloric balance to a negative one

    The thing I’ve never understood is, if fat people are all food addicts who just eat everything in sight, all day, why is it that many fat people–not all, but many, especially of those who don’t diet or haven’t dieted in a long time–maintain a stable weight? Doesn’t that mean that they *aren’t*, according to the calories in/calories out theory, maintaining a “positive caloric balance”? Why are fat people who maintain a stable weight seen as overeating by the same people whose very theory would mean they are taking in exactly the right amount of calories for their body?

    Personally, I love the “don’t eat” advice. It’s so simple. We should take that–along with advice to depressed people to just cheer up, to people with anxiety disorders to just calm down, to people with ADHD to just calm down and pay attention, to stutterers to just slow down and think before they speak, to teens to just not have sex, to the poor to just find a job that pays well, to people with learning disabilities to just study harder, to grieving people to just get over it, and to immigrants to just learn English already–and make it national policy. Because, really, who is better equipped to assess a situation than somebody who has no personal experience with it and has no freaking idea what they are talking about? People’s problems have such simple solutions when you are judging them from the outside.

  18. @fillyjonk, I would just like to add that Jesse Spencer would indeed be a FINE surgeon, have you not seen his work in “Neighbours”? He could also be a carpenter, or just lovely boy-next-door. Your call.

    If you are mistaking the superb British talents of Hugh Laurie for an Australian, however, you are insulting the people of both nations.

  19. The thing I’ve never understood is, if fat people are all food addicts who just eat everything in sight, all day, why is it that many fat people–not all, but many, especially of those who don’t diet or haven’t dieted in a long time–maintain a stable weight? Doesn’t that mean that they *aren’t*, according to the calories in/calories out theory, maintaining a “positive caloric balance”? Why are fat people who maintain a stable weight seen as overeating by the same people whose very theory would mean they are taking in exactly the right amount of calories for their body?

    Excellent point. I think at least some people (including some health professionals, unfortunately) are actually completely unaware that fat people often maintain a high but stable weight – they truly believe that we are constantly gaining. I have heard that argument come up several times as a supposed rebuttal of the repeated finding that diets don’t work. According to some people, diets “at least slow down weight gain”, i.e., if you never would have dieted you would have supposedly gained all the time while you were busy with your diet.

    Then there seems to be another group of people who sincerely believe that you have to eat at least 5,000 kcal per day or something to maintain any weight in the “obese” range.

  20. If you are mistaking the superb British talents of Hugh Laurie for an Australian, however, you are insulting the people of both nations.

    Good lord no, Kate meant Chase. (Though not, I think, particularly Jesse Spencer, since I have no idea what his views are on fat people… we know that the character has a problem with them, and he’s also a photogenic TV doctor.)

  21. @Liza

    How about the woman that runs Junkfood Science? Does she have the right credentials?

    That’s the best idea I’ve heard so far. Let’s start the Draft Sandy Szwarc movement!

  22. I guess I should not push my attempt, started above, to label Gupta “Sanjaya.” Because IIRC Sanjaya was not just the worst contestant on American Idol, but the subject of a campaign to keep him in even though he was awful. We do not want that.

    Also the joke is a bit subtle.

  23. I think “walk to work” is one of the stupidest, most condescending, stupidest, unrealistic, stupidest suggestions EVER blithely given to people to cure us of our obesity/laziness/moral failures (because exercise is not fun! It is a cure/punishment for whatever is wrong with us!).

    My work? Is about 15 miles away. Most of my commute is highway. Even if it were sane and possible to walk 15 miles to and from work, ON A HIGHWAY? (My previous commute was an hour each way, mountain highway, and I couldn’t have taken a bus if I wanted to, which I can now. Oddly, working in a national park does not involve so much fresh air and exercise as sitting in a cubicle).

    People who live close enough to walk to their workplace tend to be either privileged enough to choose close jobs, living in small towns, or so constrained by practical concerns that they can’t apply for jobs further away.

    Also, it suggests that time is not valuable for fat people (I used to get around entirely by bike/bus and walking, and it took at least twice as long to get anywhere, and often more–and heaven forbid I wanted to go anywhere on a Sunday, when the buses didn’t run in Fundieville). It’s kind of like those journalist who write patronizing articles about living healthily on a food stamp budget–but they’re not working two or three jobs and consequently have time to butcher whole chickens and cook fresh foods before they spoil. But of course, poor people’s time isn’t valuable or something.

    WALK TO WORK. THAT WILL SOLVE ALL OUR NATION’S PROBLEMS.

  24. And of course, the fact that many, many fat people–myself included–have walked to work in the past and remained stubbornly fat is just urban legend.

  25. I’ve been walking to and from work twice a day (to work, home for lunch, back to work, and home at the end of the day) for five years.

    [Checks.]

    Nope. Still fat.

  26. Oh! I figured it out! It’s the fasting part I forgot. Instead of eating lunch, I should just keep walking, right? That was always my big failure with dieting. I could never just completely STOP eating. Damn those last 800 calories!

  27. Oh, duh, I missed the “Sanjaya” joke. I’d forgotten about that guy.

    Unfortunately I think you have to be an MD to be a surgeon general; Sandy is an RN. But I’d settle for Dr. Dean Edell (author of Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.)

    And this:
    My work? Is about 15 miles away. Most of my commute is highway. Even if it were sane and possible to walk 15 miles to and from work, ON A HIGHWAY?

    It’s not even legal to walk anywhere on a highway. Or bike either. Not that it would be great for your health anyway (cough, cough).

    No freakin’ poopie that living within walking distance of your job (or telecommuting) is a luxury. My field is one of the few in which non-affluent people can work at home (because it’s actually cheaper for the company that way, given the number of employees required to do the work and the fact that they need 24/7/365 coverage). And guess what, I eat WAY more vegetables and whole grains now than I did when I was commuting, big shock. (Nobody ever had to convince me to eat fruit; I’d probably eat it if it was bad for me.)

    I personally think a lot more people could telecommute if their bosses weren’t so irrationally mad for face time; if your job doesn’t involve dealing with the public or moving physical objects all day, I don’t see why not. Other than people being control freaks, of course.

  28. My work? Is about 15 miles away. Most of my commute is highway. Even if it were sane and possible to walk 15 miles to and from work, ON A HIGHWAY?

    I mentioned to an acquaintance that my job was 10 minutes away and he blithely told me that I should be biking or walking. Really? Seriously? I go to work in the dark most of the year. It’s mostly highway. It’s almost all uphill on the way there and scary as fuck on the way home.

    When I lived in a level, urban area with good sidewalks (like he does) I used to walk to work. To try to shame me into doing so now is ridiculous.

  29. Fillyjonk, I definitely did not notice your Sanjaya reference. Because I mentally make the same substitution every time and it was therefore completely consistent in my mind.

  30. If you are mistaking the superb British talents of Hugh Laurie for an Australian, however, you are insulting the people of both nations.

    Not what I was doing. I don’t know the show well enough to remember which guy is the Australian one so I just said ‘House.’ I am conscious enough to know Hugh Laurie is British.

  31. Here’s the thing. The Sanjay guy says “you can’t lose weight without a weight management plan” but fails to acknowledge people like myself who don’t really do anything and mysteriously lose weight from time to time (and mysteriously gain it as well when doing the same sorts of things). And yet, it seems the whole nation diets and still there are plenty of fat people and people who got thinner for a time, and then proceeded to gain weight again. Golly, it’s almost as though there’s more factors involved than just starving yourself and walking those 15 miles to work. *eyeroll*

  32. To get to work I walk to my computer and sit down.

    Which is utterly awesome, because according to Sanjay that’s all I need to do in the way of exercise!

    HAES be damned, I’m not gonna bother with my daily walk and three times a week yoga any more. Walking to work is all I need to do, the rest is obviously a waste of time.

  33. Walk *from my bedroom* to my computer. Those three words add a lot of clarity so naturally I forgot to add them.

  34. Looks like Howard Dean is being considered for Surgeon General. I really had forgotten he was a physician.
    I wouldn’t mind him in this spot, but it seems like squandering his talents. I do think that he would be coming at things from a more “health is more than healthcare” and comprehending social determinants of health perspective.

  35. Another consideration is former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, who would likely focus on health care reform, not individual health.
    I don’t know anything about him.

  36. I’ve heard Howard Dean is actively campaigning for the job. He’s spent time in the trenches as a family practice physician so would be a huge improvement over some of the other names bandied about, and he’s also strong on policy. I have no idea if he’s drunk the obesity epidemic kool-aid or not, but if he wants the job he must figure he can do some good when it comes to healthcare in general. I work at a large federal agency that has a lot of Public Health Service people roaming its corridors. From what I’ve picked up from co-workers, I’d say the uniformed corps (PHS) would probably be a lot happier with Dean as their boss than they would have been with Gupta. The universal reaction to Gupta’s name was an incredulous WTF?

  37. Howard Dean! <3 I too don’t know that he’s ever drunk the obese-phobic kool-aid, but I did like the guy quite a bit back when I first started hearing about him when he was still in the running for presidential nominee. *saunters off to see if she can find out more about his take on health (and if he’s encouraging anorexia as an anecdote for obesity like the other assholes in the running for the job)*

  38. FJ, Liza: Oops. This was me just generally not getting the House joke. I only thought it was a comment that an actor hired to play a doctor is as qualified as Sanjay Gupta. I didn’t know the character was anti-fat. Next time, commenting only on shows I’ve actually seen.

  39. Former Governor John Kitzhaber is awesome for many reasons. Not the least of which being that he was sworn as governor in his jeans & boots.

    I saw him the other day downtown (Portland) and it was like spotting a celebrity I was so excited.

    I have no idea what his opinion on the “obesity crisis” is but being a level headed non-spotlight-grabber I imagine that he at least sees room for natural human variation, even if he does take the standard medical industry view of fat=bad.

  40. Oh god.

    I’m about 40 pounds over my *ideal* weight.

    This weekend, I went cycling with my skinny girlfriend.

    Even though I weigh probably 50 pounds more than my girlfriend — who is taller and athletic, it was I, the fatty, who pedaled faster. I t was I who didn’t get really winded at a good clip and didn’t have muscle soreness after our long-ride day. And yesterday, we went off-road. I was able to get myself up a steep incline — to steep to ride, I had to climb while pushing the bike. I had to go back and push my girlfriend’s bike up the hill. She didn’t have the strength or the oxygen capacity (wheezing b/c of exercise induced asthma) to get herself AND her bike up the hill.

    I’d be willing to bet both my hands that I didn’t lose an ounce of weight after a weekend of high-intensity activity. But that’s more important than the fact that I’m fit enough to train for a 50-mile.

    Whatthefuckever.

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