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Losing Weight: Drugs or Willpower?

"Inside the War on Fat," our Mar. 17 Cover Story on drugmakers' quest to find an obesity fix, attracted two kinds of passionate responses. Most readers quarreled with the pharmaceutical industry's contention that obesity is a disease to be treated with medication. They scoffed at the idea of a magic pill to remedy what they see as a simple lack of willpower. We already have a cure, these readers say: a healthy diet plus exercise. We also heard—less frequently, but no less fervidly—from readers who have sought treatment for obesity. Some described their battles with overeating and a number of them voiced their support for drugs that will help them take off weight safely.

The most profound statement in the article: "Many patients who swallow [cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering] pills today might be persuaded to trade in their prescriptions if there were an alternate route to a healthier body weight." There is an alternate route, but it doesn't come in a bottle.

Gary Medved

LYNDHURST, OHIO

It makes no sense that we as a nation continue to support the notion that we can fix all these man-made health problems by popping pills. Yet a large percentage of our health dollars and efforts continue to be sucked down this hole.

David Withington

WEST ORANGE, N.J.

I hope our country moves away from its "magic pill" culture and embraces hard work and personal accountability. We'll cure more than just our weight problems.

Frank Wurst

FRANKLIN PARK, N.J.

Call my stockbroker when a drugmaker produces a pill that: (1) has no side effects; (2) lasts forever; (3) allows the pill popper to behold a dessert cart—one beckoning with death-by-chocolate, creamy New York-style cheesecake with raspberry reduction, and a vanilla-bean crème brûlée—with the response: "Eew!"

MeMe Roth, President

NATIONAL ACTION AGAINST OBESITY

NEW YORK

I'm glad scientists apparently have at last come to the conclusion that obesity is caused by genetic disposition. While it's obvious that people become overweight because they overeat, it should be just as obvious that they wouldn't overeat if they could help it.

Screen name: Paul

I used to be 115 pounds overweight. There was no pill or diet I didn't try. The only solution is to look at obesity the same way we view alcoholism. Only a 12-step program works for me.

Screen name: Chris

As someone who is obese (and has been for most of my 25 years), I am grateful for the drugs that are assisting me in my current weight loss (75 pounds so far). But why is the Food & Drug Administration working so hard to keep new drugs off the market? Yes, there are clear side effects and dangers, but being morbidly obese has its own dangers. Let's stop pretending there will ever be a drug with no side effects.

Screen name: Diana

Last weekend [my wife and I] saw a musical production by a high school troupe. The students did a great job, but the eye-opener was that nearly 20% of them were visibly overweight. The overweight students in our high school 35 years ago could be counted on one hand. [Obesity] has become a pandemic, and I don't believe drugs are the answer.

Screen name: Bill

Why don't the drug and fast-food industries get together and add weight-reducing and cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals directly to unhealthy foods? McMerck or Pfizer Fried Chicken, anyone?

James Guy

DUBLIN, N.H.

Managing: How to Catch a Falling Star

Barring emotional or physical sickness, high achievers slack off for one reason and one reason only: Their career paths have been blocked ("When a Star Slacks Off," The Welch Way, Mar. 17). And when they supposedly "suck the team into their negative energy field," it should be obvious that there is a serious management problem.

Bradley Hitchings

RYE, N.Y.

Offensive to Koreans?

I take serious offense at the illustration accompanying "My Way or the Highway at Hyundai" ( In Depth, Mar. 17). It shows thinly veiled racism toward Koreans. A full-page, bilious-colored portrait of Hyundai Chairman Chung Mong Koo glowers menacingly at the reader against a backdrop of the Korean flag.

This sort of depiction is reminiscent of the Yellow Menace propaganda that ramped up anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II. It is no less dangerous or despicable in this era than it was in the 1940s.

Brent Hopkins

ELMWOOD, WIS.

The Wages of Offshoring

"Multinationals: Are They Good for America?" (In Depth, Mar. 10) makes no mention of the very low wages these multinationals pay abroad. The U.S. should place a specialized excess-profits tax on these companies' net gains.

Edwin Reubens

WESTON, FLA.

I value global stability and collaboration. Multinationals help save us from the fiefdom-building of politicians.

Leslie Martin

MILWAUKEE

It would have been interesting to convert the 1% fall in real [U.S.] wages that was mentioned in the article into total dollars—to show how much discretionary spending was removed from the economy.

Replacing higher-paying jobs in the U.S. with lower-paying ones overseas reduces the cash households have to pay off loans and bills. This lack of discretionary income may be a contributor to the current credit crisis.

Tom Sloan

HOLLYWOOD, FLA.

Cuba: Isn't It Time to End the Embargo?

As a youth who grew up near Miami, I've agonized over the pain that was felt by Cuban friends during the Castro years ("The Cuban Economy: After the Smoke Clears," In Depth, Mar. 10).

Now that growth looms in the Cuban economy, I hope the U.S. and Cuba can again forge close economic ties to benefit the people of both nations. As for the decades-long embargo, isn't it time for it to pass into history?

Bob Wolfenbarger

SUMMIT, N.J.

Wall Street: Disillusionment Begins at Home

Europeans aren't the only ones to sense "a broad feeling that something's not right" with America because of the fallout from the sub-prime mess ("More Fodder for the Yank-Haters," News, Mar. 10).

In America, as in Europe, suspicions of the rich are running deep.

Christopher Daniel

CENTENNIAL, COLO.

Al Gore's Preferred Shares

About the two-tier stock structure for Current Media's public offering ("Al Gore's Convenient IPO," Power Lunch, BW.com, Mar. 6): Fools will rush to [invest in] the IPO because Gore's name is appended to the company. That's why he's getting the juicy shares.

Screen name: Juan Venadito

Why is it a problem that Gore is working as a businessman and an environmental advocate?

Screen name: Joe Portolese


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