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Surgeon general answers weight questions

By Ed O'Keefe

Physician Regina M. Benjamin, who will be sworn in on today as the new surgeon general, spoke up in an interview Monday morning about critics who say her weight should have disqualified her from serving as the nation's top doctor.

"I'm a woman, just like everyone else," Benjamin said in during an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America." "Most women want to be attractive. You don't want to see those negative things, people calling you names," Benjamin said.

"Health and being healthy and being fit is not about a dress size. It's about how fit you are at that moment in time. But I'm just like 67 percent of Americans. I struggle with my weight, just like they do, so I understand, and I want them to help me and I'll help them," she said.

Benjamin will be sworn in Monday before a crowd of 500 invited guests at the National Museum of the American Indian. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Benjamin's predecessor, Richard Carmona, will attend.

Asked about the ongoing health-care reform debate, Benjamin said, "My main thing is to see that people have access to care. And so the things that are missing I think Congress could probably come up with those at a later time."

Benjamin's top priorities as surgeon general will be wellness and prevention, she said, with a particular focus on obesity and tobacco use. She said she doesn't plan to target tobacco companies specifically, but rather to encourage individual smokers to alter their habits.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | January 11, 2010; 10:52 AM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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