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Surgeon General Tries to Set New Example on Diet

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About a month after President Bush tapped him as the nation's leading public health officer, Dr. Richard Carmona took his son to a fast-food restaurant.

Being new in the office and cognizant of his public figure status, the new U.S. surgeon general decided to be responsible and just order water. Meanwhile, Carmona's son had a typical fast-food meal.

But after they sat down, Carmona grabbed one of his son's french fries. Suddenly, he glanced around and noticed several people looking his way. Dropping the fry, he laughed and whispered to his son:

``Dad's got a new job. We've gotta do this french fry thing covertly.''

Carmona's coming clean about his fast-food temptations received hearty laughter from a pretty tough crowd when he spoke Monday before thousands of nutritionists attending the annual American Dietetic Association conference in San Antonio.

During his speech, Carmona thanked those in the audience for working on the front lines of the nation's obesity epidemic.

Your work is tremendously important to the health of Americans,'' he said.You're the ones in the trenches doing the work every day.''

Carmona noted that his three priorities as surgeon general are to improve prevention, preparedness and health disparities. Obesity, he stressed, is a preventable disease, but Americans aren't doing enough to combat it.

Without changes, America's youth will reach middle age with a host of expensive and life-threatening health problems, he said.

The legacy we leave to our children will really be unsustainable,'' he said.It's bigger than just obesity and health. It has huge implications for society.''

Carmona challenged dieticians to help educate people about healthy eating habits.


(The San Antonio Express-News web site is at

c.2003 San Antonio Express-News

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