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Health

February 24, 1991

Wilkes and Shuchman's article is unfortunately misleading in several important ways. A dominant theme running throughout the article is that weight excess is totally a matter of genetics and therefore should be accepted is false. Substantial research has demonstrated that even such matters as height, which is partially a matter of genetics, can be substantially altered and changed by nutrition. Wilkes and Shuchman's point that there should not be a single ideal phenotype should not be construed as a license for excessive weight within a wide variety of body types.

Another equally wrong thrust is that nothing can be done to control excessive weight. On the contrary, much can and should be done if one has excessive weight. Many aspects of life, such as risk for heart attack, diabetes or cancer, have important genetic components. But genetics is simply a component. Thus prudent preventive steps, medical supervision and programmatic weight maintenance must also be practiced. A fatalistic genetics-did-it-to-me attitude is not in one's own best interest for a quality, healthy life.

PAUL L. KIRK

Northridge

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