That’s Maggie De Block, the Belgian Minister of Health from October 2014 to October 2020. She is currently serving as a member of the World Health Organization’s Pan-European Commission on Health and Sustainable Development.
For some reason her photograph came to the attention of social media over the weekend, and she is being made the target of considerable mockery (though she is being incorrectly labeled as Belgium’s current Minister of Health). At 59, she is estimated to weigh between 350 and 400 pounds.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to begin a busy week is…
Is it fair to criticize her for her weight when she is in a position involved with health promotion and policy?
I was once referred to a heart specialist for my persistent and asymptomatic arrhythmia. He was also about 350 pounds. I found it…strange. It took some doing for me to trust an expert telling me how to keep my heart healthy when he was so morbidly obese. (And indeed, his diagnosis and prescribed treatment turned out to be wrong, but that was just moral luck.) I analogize his weight to having a heart specialist chain-smoking during while performing a check-up.
Maybe this is a Belgium thing. I find it difficult to believe that the U.S. public or the media would tolerate, for example, a 400 pound Surgeon General. Which culture has the ethics right?