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Letters: Nov. 22, 1999

7 minute read


As a nutrition professional, I would like to thank you for your well-written article on low-carb diets [HEALTH, Nov. 1]. You presented the many sides of this complex issue very well. There have been hundreds of diets in the past, and there are bound to be hundreds more in the future, each promising the reward of thinness and health as long as one stays on “the diet” forever, an almost certain impossibility. For this reason diet truly is a four-letter word. There is not one sole miracle cure, book or meal plan for proper nutrition and health; there are hundreds of solutions depending on the health goals one is trying to achieve. Consumers should consider consulting a registered dietitian for help in customizing their nutrition therapy. JULIA J. SHEERIN, R.D. Traverse City, Mich.

Americans are finally waking up to the destructive consequences of 15 years of carbohydrate abuse. Everyone hates low-carb diets except the people who are on them! Congratulations to Dr. Woodson Merrell for his piece “How I Became a Low-Carb Believer.” He had the courage to speak up. DEBORAH FRIEDSON CHUD, M.D. Tufts University School of Medicine Medford, Mass.

Consumers are risking their long-term health for short-term weight loss. When will they wake up and eat more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains and less sugary processed foods? JUDY DOHERTY Weston, Fla.

If a high-protein diet were the solution to long-term weight loss, it would not need to be reinvented every few decades. Losing weight is easy. The challenge is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight for life. This requires a commitment to physical activity and a nutritious diet that includes a wide range of foods eaten in moderation. Contrast this approach to the risks of fad diets. Rather than showcasing the insanity of magical diets, you should report on the science of health and nutrition. MARY JO FEENEY, R.D. Los Altos, Calif.

Your report was chock-full of good, nutritious humor. I think I lost a pound or two laughing. Thanks! PETER KELLY Portland, Ore.

We will immerse ourselves in any gimmick diet that promises weight loss while defying the laws of physics. Our body weight is the simple net sum of calories (from whatever source) ingested and expended. When we consume more than we burn, we get fat; when we burn more than we consume, we lose weight. If Dr. Atkins eats 6,000 calories of bacon cheeseburgers a day, he will soon become the blubber ball that so many Americans are. THOMAS M. GINN, M.D. Salisbury, N.C.

Today health care in general and obesity treatment in particular attract charlatans. You made little mention of the health risks of their schemes. Entrepreneurs who market diets via their books are promoting not health but self-image. Your report gave my patients permission to eat whatever they choose with utter disregard for their health. CLARENCE M. LEARY, M.D. Lodi, Calif.

We Americans are overweight because we eat too much and don’t exercise enough, plain and simple! The portions are huge, and we won’t settle for less. We want bagels and muffins the size of Rhode Island. We megasize and supersize our already calorie-laden fast-food meals. Why is it that other countries following a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet don’t have the obesity problem we Americans do? Because others know how to eat and when to stop. COLLEEN THOMPSON, R.D. Wallingford, Conn.

Thanks. Finally a diet article that didn’t give me indigestion! KIM PETERSHACK, R.D. Madison, Wis.

For as long as I can remember, my father has said refined sugar and white bread are poison. As kids, we were forbidden to eat these foods. Instead we ate honey or brown sugar and German rye bread. I’ve always eaten like a horse, as have all members of my family, and have never been overweight. I believe any diet that eliminates these two “poisons” will be quite effective. MATHEW H. HILBING Toronto


Re your story on the Achieva college Prep Centers [EDUCATION, Nov. 1]: I would like to correct a misconception about Silver Creek High School. I was quoted as saying Silver Creek is thinking of hiring Achieva “not only for test prep but also to teach reading and writing skills.” We hired Achieva not to supplant what our staff already does, and certainly not to rescue us, but instead to assist us in our focus on success for all students. If that part is controversial, then so be it. We are pleased with what Achieva has done so far, and we will continue to have its people work with us for as long as they help us to show continued improvement for our students. FRED DE FUNIAK, PRINCIPAL Silver Creek High School San Jose, Calif.


We are writing to object to Dr. Ian Smith’s article “Cell-Phone Scare,” reacting to ABC News’s 20/20 report [PERSONAL TIME: YOUR HEALTH, Nov. 1]. Those of us who spent four months investigating the safety of cell phones read Smith’s column with disbelief. How could the description of our report be so inaccurate? We questioned whether Smith had even seen our two-part, 24-min. broadcast. He wrote that he was “startled by the possibility that ABC could have uncovered a smoking gun in a medical controversy that has been simmering unresolved for years.” But we specifically reported, “There is no smoking gun.” This is just one example of how Smith distorted our report in order to discredit it. Our story was carefully written to avoid exactly what Smith accused us of doing–overstating the science and causing a scare. Of course, any reporter, even one like Smith from a competing network, is entitled to come to his own conclusions about our story, but they should be based on the facts. Smith’s article was unfair to us as journalists and inaccurate and misleading to your readers. BRENDA BRESLAUER, PRODUCER BRIAN ROSS, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT ABC News New York City


Beyond the perception that campaign financing is a sort of legalized bribery by Big Money interests who seek to influence politicians [NATION, Nov. 1], there is another problem with campaign funds. They are used mostly to purchase TV advertising. A mature and leading democracy like America should vote on the basis of reasoned argument, not because of cynical, low-minded commercials. Can you imagine 30-second spots as a replacement for the Federalist papers? Televised political ads are sold to our nation the same way as soap for dirty laundry. Like tobacco smoking, gambling and other expensive, unhealthy addictions, political TV ads should be taxed. At least we could put those dollars into something productive. STAN ROSENBERG Grayslake, Ill.


I’m no fan of Jerry Falwell’s. In fact, as a fellow Christian, I’ve been embarrassed by his antics and have long felt that he gives Christians a bad name. So I was surprised and pleased when, with gay activist the Rev. Mel White, he led a forum designed to address violence against gays and Christians [RELIGION, Nov. 1]. But this 90-min. gathering did nothing to resolve the contentious issues between Christian Evangelicals and the gay and lesbian community. Falwell holds firm in his belief that homosexuality is a sin and a chosen deviant lifestyle. As long as he feels that way, clearly this was not “An End to the Hatred,” as your story title says, but certainly, as the Rev. White has acknowledged, “It’s a small start, but it’s a start.” LAURA S. SCOTT Roanoke, Va.

Falwell and his followers have stood on the wrong side of logic. Why is he referred to as a religious “leader” when he is the one clearly following the rest of us into the next millennium? JOHN ANDREINI Champlin, Minn.

As a graduate of Falwell’s Liberty University and an outwardly gay Christian, I hope his apologies are sincere. Falwell may finally be able to let go of his personal homophobia, one that has been conveniently used as a catalyst to solicit millions of dollars of financial support from the vulnerable sheep of his TV flock. Thank you, Mel White, for having the courage to draw a line in the sand and state that enough is enough. It was White and his friends who set the more Christlike example here and took the higher ground–not Falwell. ART SCOTT Las Flores, Calif.

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