What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Dr. Regina BenjaminThe picture on the right is of the woman nominated by President Barack Obama to be our next Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, MD. The U.S. Surgeon General is the leading spokesperson for public health matters in the United States.

The Surgeon General shapes the direction of public health policy, and can have a tremendous effect on the health habits of Americans, as demonstrated by the dramatic drop in cigarette smoking in the years since the Surgeon General's office condemned it.

Today, the focus is turning toward preventable lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  It is a sure bet that the up-and-coming Surgeon General will be out in front in confronting the lifestyle choices that cause these diseases.

And let's not mince words here. Genetics and environment play only very small roles in obesity, heart disease and diabetes. The major causes of these diseases are the Standard American Diet (SAD) and sloth.

For the most part, Dr. Benjamin is an excellent choice for Surgeon General. She is a MacArthur Foundation genius grant recipient, founder and CEO of a rural health clinic, a medical college dean, and recipient of too many awards and certificates to count.

So what's wrong with this picture? The problem is that while Dr. Benjamin may very well promote the tenets of healthy living, one has to wonder, does she actually live by those principles?

If she does not, she can use all of the oxygen in the world to recommend healthy eating and active living, but the message will not be heard.

I know through my own experience that a doctor has to walk the talk of healthful living. I can gladly cajole my patients to exercise routinely, because I train 5-6 days a week. I can lead patients into healthier diets because I eat healthy myself.

I also fall out of training and have been known to suck down a bag of Doritos like a Hoover, so I can help my patients with those pitfalls as well.

Most chiropractic physicians know that we have to walk the talk, because our relationships with our patients tend to be more of a partnership and less of a dictatorship than the MD-patient relationship.

On the face of it, what I'm about to suggest sounds like a far-fetched idea.

But if you look at the nuts and bolts of what today's Surgeon General has to do, might it not make sense to choose a doctor who lives by the dictates which he/she recommends to the populace? Who leads by example rather than dictum? Who knows how to inspire people to better health?

Why shouldn't our next Surgeon General be a Doctor of Chiropractic?