Surgeon General to Focus on Obesity

The topic of obesity was problematic for the country’s last “top doctor,” but newly appointed Surgeon General Vivek Murthy plans to take on the issue too.

In the three months since the Senate confirmed Murthy, he has talked about medical marijuana, measles and mental health and even helped tout the Affordable Care Act. But next month he is planning a speech on obesity — a topic he told Congress would be a top priority and is the signature issue for first lady Michelle Obama with her “Let’s Move” initiative.

Murthy, a slim Indian-American, won’t face the same challenges as his predecessor, Regina Benjamin. Benjamin was widely criticized for appearing overweight even as she urged Americans to lose weight by adopting healthy habits.

Taking on the issue in a fresh way will be a challenge. Health experts have drawn attention to the problem for years, but obesity rates are still rising for adults and have leveled off — but not diminished — among children.