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Don't Make Light of a Weighty Issue

January 11, 2002

It is clear that Sandy Banks shares the "human element" in all of us--that we would like to try to lose those extra pounds. ("Weight-Loss Goals: No More Pie in the Sky," Jan. 1).

As entertaining as her column is, she missed the boat on this one. More Americans will die this year from obesity and weight-related diseases than from our current new fear, bioterrorism.

Our youngest generation is succumbing to high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and hypertension at rates previously unrecorded.

We are not getting the message that our desires to satisfy our taste buds and our hankering for processed foods, coupled with inactivity, is leading us down a path to destruction.

We do not need to lose a certain number of pounds by a certain time period. Small changes such as reducing portion sizes, substituting fruit for snacks, limiting soda intake and a short walk after a large meal can help most overweight individuals.

I am sympathetic to individuals who attempt to battle obesity and who fail repeatedly because of lack of instruction or education or support from the medical and health community. But when I hear a mother on a fad diet tell me her child subsists on fast food and processed foods at age 6, I feel a sense of anger and helplessness.

We need to make lifestyle education a top priority--in our homes, in our schools, at our workplaces, and in the government forum.

Make a New Year's resolution to adopt little, doable changes in the lifestyle of your entire family.

AMY HENDEL

Registered physician's assistant

Encino

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