One of the blogs I have rabidly followed over the last year and a half is White Coat Underground.  The author, PalMD, is a physician (internist) and a well-respected member of the science/medicine blogosphere and last night a post of his caught my eye.

Obesity is a bad thing. This isn’t a moral judgment. If one of your values is long life and good health, then obesity is a bad thing.

PalMD talks a little bit about his struggles with his weight and how he is starting a “diet” which he will be updating regularly.  This is interesting for a physician to speak about publicly, especially someone who is so well followed on the internet.  Although he blogs under a pseudonym his real identity was outed a while ago so his patients can find him if he wants.

I think this is a good point for the public, especially in light of the negative comments I’ve seen about Dr. Benjamin’s (Obama’s pick for Surgeon General) weight.  Physicians are as normal as anyone else.  While walking through downtown Chicago you see the whole spectrum of human existence and vices; obesity, smoking, unhealthy eating, and even a few harsh words exchanged.  You never know which of these people is a nurse, physician, public health official or medical student.  One would like to think that physicians lead a healthier lifestyle than everyone else but the truth is they are just as vulnerable to unhealthy habits as everyone else.  It is true that a lot of these vices are stopped or scared out of medical students because of the knowledge, images and patients they see but just knowing the risk doesn’t stop people from participating in unhealthy behavior.

My question is one that has been asked before but I’d like to get some input from the readers; should physicians and health care workers in general be held to a higher standard of healthy living, and if so, why?  You can respond in the comments or by email which can be found on the right sidebar.