DEAR AMY: I recently traveled to a family wedding with my only brother, who is in his mid-50s.
He and his wife (both Ph.D.s) are morbidly obese, and unfortunately he has suffered medical complications of his obesity: hypertension, joint replacement and heart disease.
He spent most of the time on our trip complaining about aches and pains, his difficulty walking and the small size of airline seats.
His pain not only makes him miserable but makes the rest of us miserable too.
He resents any discussion of weight or fitness, so when others talk about walking or exercising, he believes these are criticisms directed at him.
Several years ago, I made the error of telling him about my success on a diet and exercise program (after he commented on my looks) and he still resents me for this.
His unhappiness is evident.
He won't speak to his doctors about his weight, and everyone just pretends that weight isn't a problem when it is killing him.
I have kept my mouth shut for the most part, but he seems to find fault in any comments others make related to fitness and health, assuming these are directed toward him.
I would like to spend time with him, but as you can imagine, it isn't pleasant. Have you a suggestion? -- Baffled Brother
DEAR BAFFLED: Your brother is sensitive about his weight and bullying others into silence.
Because you just saw him, you could try to address this in a brotherly fashion by e-mailing him to say: "I was so happy to spend time with you, but I continue to be worried about your health because you mentioned having various aches and pains during the trip. I hope you'll talk to your doctor about your health problems and let me know if there is anything I can do to help." Otherwise, if a conversation about health and fitness unrelated to your brother is swirling around, he simply doesn't have a right to shut it down. If he is sensitive -- well, he'll have to learn how to handle his own sensitivity without controlling other people.