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In "Is It O.K. To Be Pudgy?" [May 9], You reported that a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that people who are overweight but not obese are at no greater risk of dying prematurely than those of normal weight. You also reported the views of the food industry-sponsored group Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), which says there is no obesity problem and it is all hype. The American public does not need the CDC, the CCF or anybody else to tell them what to think. Just spend a few weekends observing the crowds at amusement parks, the local zoo, or other popular spots. The obesity problem is glaring. If you don't believe your own eyes, ask foreigners visiting our country what they notice most about us.
AMIR MEHRAN, M.D.
UCLA DEPARTMENT OF SURGERY
Your report confirmed that we are in a state of denial about our health, particularly about obesity. People in the U.S. are ridiculously overweight compared with those in Europe, let alone Asia. The money spent here to treat increased numbers of cases of diabetes and coronary disease alone should tell us that it is not "O.K. to be pudgy." Wake up, Americans! You are fat and paying a dreadful price for failing to eat less and exercise more. Obesity is an epidemic.
Redwood City, Calif.
Manly Hand Holding
Joe Klein's column "The Perils of Hands-On Diplomacy" [May 9] called attention to the photo of President Bush walking down an uneven path in Texas hand in hand with the infirm 80-year-old Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. There is nothing "unmanly"-as Klein characterized it-in extending a helping hand. Klein seems to lack any cultural awareness of the world outside the U.S.
Klein was insightful in asking if Bush might have done better to concentrate on energy independence instead of revamping Social Security. Klein's column was fun to read, but it missed the real point: Was our President being subservient to Prince Abdullah to get better oil prices so the American people might benefit? Or was it an attitude characteristically displayed by Bush, his father and their business associates in their longtime relationship with the Saudis and therefore having nothing to do with affecting current oil prices?
JOSE L. PEREZ
Of Parties and Prayer
Your report "Faith and Frat Boys" told of college students who are pursuing a relationship with God [May 9]. You successfully described the courage and faith necessary for Christian students to live their beliefs in a secular college culture that is sometimes hostile to them. As a college minister, I appreciated TIME's accurate portrayal of today's college students, the vast majority of whom are giving serious thought to where they are on their spiritual journey.
Your article seemed to suggest that college students are divided into two groups: professed Christians-who abstain from drugs, alcohol, premarital sex and other vices-and all other students, who indulge in continuous debauchery. That is absurd. When I was a college student, I didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't go to many parties. And I graduated with high honors. But I was a liberal agnostic, not a Christian. For anyone to imply that all non-Christian students are immoral is insulting and misleading.