Do Obesity and Diabetes Reflect on One’s Character?

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Today there was considerable controversy over Dr. Snyderman’s comments on Paula Deen and Governor Chris Christie on “The Professionals”, as evidenced by hundreds of comments on Dr. Snyderman’s Facebook.

Dr. Nancy: Paula Deen’s behaivor is egregious

As some background, Paula Deen is the famous Southern Cooking chef who for many years has packed her recipes with fat, butter, and calories. Just this week she came on “The Today Show” to reveal that she has had diabetes for 3 years and that she has a deal with a pharmaceutical company that makes Diabetes medication. In other words, she deliberately hid her diagnosis while she continued to share fattening dishes with her viewers. Dr. Snyderman calls Deen’s behavior “egregious” and that Deen should have taken the opportunity to change her recipes into healthy alternatives. I agree with Dr. Snyderman. A lot of people look up to Paula Deen and follow her recipes – sure, she preaches “portion control” but that’s a harder strategy to practice when compared to substituting healthier ingredients in her dishes.

The professionals also discussed Governor Chris Christie’s weight, as in how his heftier build will impact his political career. Dr. Snyderman says, “This is not a time to elect President Taft. It is time to elect a president who has the fortitude to push himself away from the table…and lead.” Her comments sparked a storm of comments on her Facebook and on Twitter.

For me, this whole obesity controversy has made me realize that public figures need to take responsibility for affecting public health too. It is obvious that certain people in set roles (doctors, nurses, physical therapists, etc.) are within the realm of affecting public health behaviors, but politicians and celebrities need to be conscious of how they influence diet and health as well. One, the public looks up to such figures as examples of how they should live their lives. Two, appearance of public figures affects public opinion of them; Dr. Snyderman does not believe Governor Christie is a fit presidential candidate because of his inability to control his weight. This whole debate highlights the fact that once you are in the public eye, your health may reflect on your character and can also influence health of the millions of Americans who follow you.

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