letters | should obesity be considered a disease?

Kids need help learning to cope

RE “MY FAT problem — and yours” (Op-ed, June 27):

I understand Alex Beam’s view that obesity’s recent re-definition as a disease is a money-making scheme for the pharmaceutical industry and surgeons, which we all pay for. I get it.

And I also understand that the etiology of obesity is multi-faceted.


But unless kids learn “personal responsibility” skills from early on and continue to practice these skills (yes, specific mental skills), they can’t pull themselves back from the table, refrain from becoming addicted to the popular drugs or drinks, or refrain from using domestic violence as a way of settling disagreements.

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These are not “soft” skills, meaning “touchy-feely, liberally infused psychobabble” but the hardest of skills. Walking away from a fight, refusing a joint while your friends are looking, and taking a salad instead of a McDonald’s burger are the toughest of things to follow-through with. But they must be taught.

Saying obesity is just a behavioral problem is much too simplistic.

Mitch Lyons

Social-Emotional Learning
Alliance for Massachusetts