Dear Ann:

I have read several letters in your column that dealt with obesity, but I have yet to read one that addresses the fact that obesity is not a disease or a chemical addiction. With the few exceptions where obesity is caused by a glandular malfunction, it is simply caused by eating too much. Unlike smoking, doing drugs or drinking alcohol, there is nothing in food that causes a chemical addiction in the human body.

"Because it tastes good" does not qualify as a chemical addiction. Obesity is due to gluttony. There are very few signs of obesity in India. They cannot afford excesses such as overeating, so they don't get fat.

Please, Ann, let us not shed any tears for that 350-pound woman who can't wedge herself into an airplane seat. She got that way by choice. She wasn't hooked on chemicals.

If everyone ate and drank everything they wanted, the world would be full of 350-pound hippos. And let us stop putting obesity in the same category as smoking, drugs and alcohol abuse. Handicapped parking places should not be awarded to the fat folks of the world. They are allocated for the truly handicapped, who have no control over their condition. Most fat people choose immediate gratification over long-term health and appearance.

Jim in Llano, Calif.

Your belligerent attitude toward overweight people makes me wonder what is at the root of your mean-spirited hostility. I suspect that some obese person in your childhood was mean to you.

You are wrong when you say fat people eat too much only because "it tastes good." That 350-pound woman probably got that way because she was trying to compensate for whatever was missing in her life by filling the emptiness with food.

There is also the matter of metabolism. Some people can burn up calories in their sleep, while others have trouble burning them no matter what they do. Those who sit in offices all day (now working with computers) are bound to be heavier than people who are doing janitorial work or selling something that requires long hours of traveling by foot. The only way to make up the difference is by exercising vigorously for several hours each week.

Some folks eat and drink whatever they want and don't gain an ounce. Others pay for every morsel of chocolate cake or ice-cream sundae. Life deals more gently with some of us than others. It is a fact that the people who live in the United States are the most envied in the world. They are also probably the fattest. Do you want to trade places with someone in a less abundant country? I don't.

Dear Ann:

Here's one for your "stupid crooks" collection. It appeared in the Youngstown Vindicator. Keep up the good work.

Constant Reader in Youngstown, Ohio

Thanks for sending it on. Here it is:

It didn't take long for police in Fort Smith, Ark., to figure out who their prime suspect was in the holdup at a local convenience store. The clerk remembered the pistol the suspect carried and the hard hat he wore. The name of the robber was printed in bold letters across the front of his hat.

Four hours after the holdup, the 37-year-old robber was in custody. An officer checking the route from the convenience store to the man's apartment found a plastic grocery bag in a trash bin, which contained the hard hat with the man's name on it. Police also found the tip of a toy pistol while searching the man's car.

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