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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Upsurge in Obesity Begins With Those Candy Bars

March 15, 2004

Sad coincidence or intentional irony? "Obesity Gaining on Tobacco as Top Killer" (March 10) covers the deadly upsurge in obesity and its particularly troubling consequences for children who may become what Dr. J. Michael McGinnis called "the first generation to be sicker and die younger than their parents." Then, in "School Rankings Rankle Some" (March 10), we learn that one of L.A.'s lowest-ranking elementary schools uses candy bars to teach math and, as your photo caption cheerfully notes, the kids "got to eat the props." Oh good.

There is absolutely no reason to reward children with candy, as there are plenty of good alternatives. I'm trying to protect my daughter from what seems to be a widespread addiction to sugar. So far it's working, and she happily chooses healthful food on her own.

I'm sure she will eventually discover candy bars, but I don't need a teacher pointing the way.

Cynthia Bowie

La Crescenta

Surprise, surprise. There is an obesity problem in the U.S. and it takes the Journal of the American Medical Assn. and the Rand Corp. to point it out for us. If Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson does a credible job in his new program of public awareness of this problem, he may jeopardize the future of the Social Security fund -- if all of these obese citizens live to the age of 65.

Bob Kerber

Oceanside

Re "House Tightens Belt on Fatty Food Suits," March 11: No frivolous lawsuits against junk food. Just prohibit all advertising on television, the same thing done with tobacco back in the 1970s.

Greg Simons

Echo Park

The government has spent plenty of our money trying to get people to stop smoking, so it will never admit the obvious: People who stop smoking have a harder time controlling their weight.

Mimi Gerstell

Pasadena

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