Nomination of Dr. Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General Supported by CSPI
Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson
January 7, 2009
Quick—-can you name the Surgeon General?
Okay, that's a trick question. We've actually had an "acting" Surgeon General for more than a year. A good rule of thumb might be that if you don't know who the Surgeon General is, he or she is probably not doing a whole lot.
The fact is, it has been a long time since we've had a Surgeon General who had a major national impact, such as Dr. C. Everett Koop, who took on the tobacco industry. Certainly no one could accuse any Surgeon General in the last eight years of tackling tough health problems.
CSPI welcomes news of the nomination of Dr. Sanjay Gupta to be Surgeon General of the United States. Gupta, a neurosurgeon, happens to be a skilled medical communicator. But more than that, he has the brains and energy to be an integral part of the administration's health-policy brain trust. If confirmed, we hope Dr. Gupta will use his bully pulpit both to encourage Americans to make important lifestyle changes and to advocate policies aimed at preventing health problems.
Obviously, like other federal appointees, Dr. Gupta will need to make full disclosure of any financial ties he may have had with industry. Those relationships, should there be any, certainly warrant scrutiny during the confirmation process.
One matter that certainly should be at the top of his agenda is stemming the obesity epidemic, which may lead today's children to have shorter lives than their parents. Gupta would need to meld individual, corporate, and governmental actions—education, regulations, and laws at the local, state, and national levels—into one coordinated and effective campaign.