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Oct. 30: Fat kids’ choices, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Fat kids’ choices

Unlike tobacco, food is not optional. Confining the obesity message to schools is sidetracking the problem, which begins at home (The Battle Against Obesity Begins At School – Oct. 29).

Tony Clark, Brampton, Ont.

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With school budgets so tight, health and physical education courses and materials are the last priority. Programs that have shown promise by helping schools and boosting physical activity levels have been cut by the government, which means schools are on their own. Many principals and educators would rather spend their time and money on promoting elite school teams than developing physical activity programs that would benefit more students.

Schools can be the place where we can promote healthy, active lifestyles for everyone. But until we get serious government support, and a change in philosophy at the school level, we will never realize the results we need for our kids.

Steve Friesen, health and physical education educator, Guelph, Ont.

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Here’s a simple way to tell which foods to eat and which to avoid. “Food” in boxes with an ingredient list long and multisyllabic, like a certain lord, bad. Food in its own wrapping with no required ingredient list, i.e. cabbage, good.

B.D. Penny, Grey Highlands, Ont.

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One of the main culprits contributing to poor eating patterns is excessive snacking between meals. This gives children calories they usually do not need and contributes to poor eating at mealtimes. This is clearly the parent’s responsibility.

Paul Thiessen, pediatrician, Vancouver

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Education programs and government initiatives versus video games, screen time and fast food. Hm, I wonder what will prevail?

William England, Edmonton

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Selfish storeys

Kenneth Sherman suggests a special place in hell for “plodding bureaucrats” who sanction the building of monster homes in neighbourhoods where “traditional” homes provide the character of the street scape (Dante And The Committee Of Adjustment – Facts & Arguments, Oct. 29).

We live in a beautiful, tree-lined area where 1950s bungalows co-exist nicely with two-storey homes built in the seventies. But virtually every house that has sold in the past few years has been replaced by an architectural monstrosity. These homes are clones: massive, covered in ubiquitous tan “stucco,” and sporting all manner of turrets, fake dormers, bits of copper roofing, etc. Almost all are ostentatious and boring.

Does the owner/builder of one of these homes ever consider the impact on neighbours’ homes? If his neighbours will lose some of their privacy? If every other house on the street will somehow look diminished because his family wanted to have the biggest house on the block? Will the character of the neighbourhood, which drew folks here in the first place, be forever altered?

There is a level of selfishness here that is truly offensive.

Wendy Kerr Hadley, Port Credit, Ont.

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We have sold Toronto’s soul and backbone by allowing unchecked condominium growth. While the city may be filling its coffers, it has been doing so via foreign investors who wait for speculation and demand to drive up the value of their investments. Meanwhile, artists, performers and crafts people can no longer find affordable studio space near the downtown core, and the working-class ethnic communities that have come to define Toronto have been reduced to a novelty to the new condo class. I do not deny the benefits of this boom, but it isn’t all a boon for this city and its residents.

Eric Larden, Toronto

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The Bond boys

Women have been shaken and stirred by Bond, saying yes to him in his various incarnations since he stepped on the screen in the sixties in Dr. No – at least, this woman has (You’ll Be Shaken And Maybe Even Stirred – Arts, Oct. 27). The best Bond ever – I’ve seen them all – is Daniel Craig. My daughter and I always try to see the latest Bond movie together. It’s one of our ways of girl-bonding.

Molly Ferguson, St. John’s

PS My daughter made me type that bit about Craig being the best Bond. Actually, it’s Roger Moore. But Daniel Craig is second.

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Re Would The Real James Bond Please Stand Up? (Oct. 27): Agatha Christie’s short story The Rajah’s Emerald, published in the mid-1920s, featured a supercilious twit named … James Bond.

Paul O’Brien, Toronto

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Staying abreast

I don’t have time right now to research the literature and form a science-based rebuttal to Margaret Wente’s insistence that we are exaggerating the potential health risks posed by chemicals (Can We Just Relax About Our Breasts ? – Oct. 27). I’m too occupied dealing with my own breast cancer – at the ripe old age of 42 – and all that ensues, post-diagnosis, while still attempting to have a life

Should Ms. Wente suddenly find herself in this position, with no major risk factors other than being female, I expect she may look at the myriad of potential chemical risks less skeptically. We steep our flesh in a chemical bath (lotions, cleansers, off-gassing from plastics and furniture, flame and spill retardants) for decades. If “living” is the greatest cause of breast cancer, surely we should examine how we are living.

Tuula Talvila, Ottawa

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The chemicals Margaret Wente describes – perchlorate, pesticides, herbicides, phthalates, BPA – when present in breast milk, not only block transmission of critical proteins for normal brain development, they are also directly transmitted to the infant, increasing potential for later developmental and intellectual damage, and cancer.

The issue is neither to stop breast-feeding nor dismiss the potential of adverse effects of environmental chemicals but rather to better regulate the chemicals to which lactating women are exposed. Research emanating from reputable institutions in the U.S. shows several cancers, including breast cancer, and abnormalities in brain development are indeed associated with exposure to certain of these chemicals through breast milk.

Joanne Rovet, senior scientist, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto; scientific advisory board member, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Trade in the idea

So Toronto denied the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair’s application to stage a Running of the Bulls down Bay Street (City Says No To Bull Run In Toronto’s Financial District – Oct. 29). Perhaps they should have proposed a Running of the Bears.

Reg Whitaker, Victoria

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