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Letters to the Editor

April 16, 2010

Plan needed to fight Hagerstown's obesity



To the editor:

It's official. Hagerstown is the fattest town in Maryland ("Feeling heavy in Hagerstown," Monday, April 12, page C1). Didn't we know that, but were too ashamed to admit it? No doubt that (Herald-Mail columnist) Tim Rowland will explain.

The simple answer is that we eat too much and exercise too little. We do consume far too much of the wrong foods - soda, bacon, bologna, sweets and carbohydrates loaded with cheese. Fast-food restaurants thrive while health food shops dwindle. We consider four chili dogs, a pile of potato chips and a pickle a balanced six-course meal. I believe in my heart that we know better, but allow our taste buds to trick us into eating this way.

For exercise, we look for shortcuts and spend our energy fabricating excuses. Hardly anyone scores 250 minutes per week of "vigorous" activity.

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Will shame have a beneficial effect or will we just continue to rack up record scores on the worst health statistics? Just think of it. Next, we might be owners of the "record" for community blood pressure or highest per-capita gastric bypass surgeries.

Conversely, we could develop a real plan for community action. The first step would be a major effort toward prevention of childhood obesity and correction of children's improper eating habits and insufficient exercise. I favor a major increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables (up to eight servings per day per person). That would swiftly pay nutritional dividends. Remedial physical education for schoolchildren unaccustomed to keeping fit and realistic, incentivized exercise programs for adults would help those who need it to shed excess weight.

If the entire community were behind this type of program, like a huge support group, no individual would feel as though they were being picked on. We could devise serious losing contests with valuable prizes and make "a village sport" of the effort.

Medical, nutritional, programmatic and logistic support services exist within our community. Just fitting these disparate pieces into a coherent and aggressive working plan would be easier and less expensive than you think.

Challenging, but if successful, it would allow Hagerstown to give up its reputation as the target of fat jokes.

M. Douglas Becker, M.D.
Hagerstown




The matter of climate change must be studied



To the editor:

Much has recently come forth that some "climate scientists" have been cooking the books and data has been altered to fit the proposition.

Climategate tells us that an enormous amount of money is being spent, and will be spent, on the possibly specious proposition that man-made "greenhouse gases" are a (the) cause of climate change.

Is it not time that this matter be carefully reviewed? Is the sky really falling? Are we being impoverished by the disaster lobby?

Robert P. Molten
Hagerstown

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