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April 8 Letters to the Editor

Health, not weight

The recent article on the WOW (Way to Optimal Weight) program housed at the University of Maine brings the issue of how much people “should” weigh front and center to readers of the BDN. A focus primarily or exclusively on weight, however, can be problematic.

Based on the article it appears as if the WOW program attempts to emphasize healthful behaviors, which ultimately is the best tack to take. Because weight is easily measured and has been associated with (but not necessarily the cause of) a number of health concerns, it is easy to point the finger at weight and say to people, “You must lose weight in order to be healthy.” It is not that simple!

When we exercise moderately and eat a broad range of foods, we will become healthier and our weight will take care of itself — and may not necessarily land in the “normal” range on the charts that we all stare at in our physician’s office.

Recent research tells us that living longer has been associated with weights slightly above that “normal” range.

When people hear that they or their child must lose weight in order to be healthy, they may assume that what will make them healthy is to become smaller by any means necessary. There are dangerous ways to lose weight, and there are weights that are dangerously too low. A focus on weight sends the wrong message to people. A focus on health does not.

Christine Selby, Ph.D.



Power lies in art

Art is power. A single picture, taken in June 1972, of children running from napalm had dramatic influence on ending the Vietnam War. Three minutes of James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make it Here Anymore” can trump three years of listening to Rush Limbaugh. Pete Seeger sang all the verses to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” at the last presidential inauguration.

Historically, a major step toward corporate or military control of governments has been to shut down the arts. In a war of ideas, citizens’ ability to easily convey theirs through art is a major check on loss of a representative government.

Cutbacks of theater and music from the University of Maine (our university), would be a major step toward, or indicator of, a failed society. We must maintain the power of art and music to protect our commons against, as David Bollier titles his book, “Silent Theft.”

Devon Carter



Smarten up

The recent story about the teen suicide in Massachusetts because of bullying is appalling, and unfortunately, not surprising. There are plenty of reasons and blame to go around.

There are little or no consequences for inappropriate behavior by adults or children. Respect is a concept that has lost all meaning. Children learn by example. What kind of example do we have today? A society that is incapable of civilized behavior. For many reasons, parenting skills are lacking; mass media are a total disgrace from television programs, talk radio, 24-hour news stations that emphasize the extremes, music lyrics, and “anything goes” on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs.

What example is there for children not to bully when they see adults holding signs that incite the killing of the president, throwing bricks through windows, name-calling on the floor of Congress, cutting the gas lines to a home that was supposed to belong to a representative but did not, and a former vice presidential candidate that calls for people to “load up” and put target symbols on states that did not vote her wa? Is this not a form of bullying?

Appropriate behavior — it needs to be defined by actions. Adults, smarten up; children are listening to you and watching you.

Catherine P. Richard



Regulate Wall Street

A financial reform bill has passed through the House, but not yet through the Senate. An army of banking lobbyists is running a multimillion dollar effort to water down the reforms that would help protect us against the fat cats that got us into this financial mess. They are claiming that they can regulate themselves, but they already have proved that they cannot.

They already are back to the same shady deals that forced us taxpayers to bail them out, and they are still too big to fail.

Right now, the Senate is considering legislation that would put in place new rules that rein in the reckless behavior of big banks. But Wall Street lobbyists are fighting to protect the bonuses, loopholes and sweetheart deals that many financial predators still enjoy while millions of Americans lose their jobs and savings.

It is up to us to make reform happen. All of us need to call and write our senators so they know what we want, what we demand and what we expect.

They also need to know that we will pay close attention to any amendments proposed and to which way they vote.

Cara Doucette

Van Buren

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