Healthy Recipes for Kids

Although the dietary tips in "Fighting Kid Abuse on the Home Front" [Lean Plate Club, Oct. 12] were very helpful, I feel that parents should be told they can best help children stay in shape by feeding them an all-vegetarian diet.

Hamburgers, chicken nuggets and cheese pizza really aren't any healthier than Snickers bars and sodas. Children can get all the nutrients they need -- without the fat and cholesterol found in animal products -- from grains, vegetables, legumes and fruit.

Tracy Skalitzky

Brookeville

As the column noted, television increases the risk of obesity. In fact, it doubles that risk, according to research we recently completed. Our analysis of a large, representative, national sample of American adolescents suggests that among those reporting five or more hours of television on an average school day, obesity is twice as likely.

Martin Atherton, DrPH

James Metcalf, PhD

College of Nursing and Health Science

George Mason University

Fairfax

The Meaning of Retirement

I was moved by the story of the mother's suicide in "A Son's Suicide Mission" [My Time, Oct. 12]. My guess is that the reason she killed herself was that all of the things she used to be she no longer was, and she was unable to come up with an answer to the question, "What do you want to do with the rest of your life?"

This problem is only going to get much bigger and much worse as the baby boom generation hits retirement age. As Americans live longer, retire younger (voluntarily or not) and see retirement benefits pushed farther into the future, a gap generation is being created of ever-younger, more-vigorous and healthy people with no meaningful work and no meaningful retirement. Our society is going to have to come to grips with this dilemma, and stop pretending it doesn't exist.

Peter Coppelman

Alexandria

You had also mentioned in the column about experiencing a transition. I wonder if my experience ties in.

I am 57 years old and my husband is 75. We have both lost our jobs at different times in the past two years. I lost mine two years ago and am now employed, but it took 18 months to find a job. I'm making half of what I earned before. I went into a deep depression and now am on four different kinds of medication for it. I feel much better now that I am working and the medication is working.

My husband just lost his job and he is scared. He is a 75-year-old with the physical stamina and mind-set of someone much younger, but he is still very insecure. And we need the money as long as we both can work. Would you consider writing about working seniors who lose jobs and all the fear and economic strains that come with that and best ways to cope?

Rosemary Kroo

Germantown

You touched on some very significant points. One angle you missed is that suicide is the illness discriminated against by insurance companies.

Often the victim of suicide is being treated for an array of possible etiologies -- depression, bipolar disorder, chemical or hormonal imbalance -- as was the situation with my brother. He was being treated for depression. Had he been ill with pneumonia and died, his insurance would have paid his wife and 4 children and they would be surviving. But depression (or bipolar disorder) is somehow not recognized as a disease but as something self-inflicted. I think this is blatant discrimination.

My sister in law and niece and nephews are hardly making it. I am running the JFK 50-mile ultramarathon in Boonsboro, Md., Nov. 20 in memory of my brother and as a fundraiser for his family. Thank you for bringing this topic to the paper. We need to talk about suicide and its effects on all of us, not just the victims and their families.

Marguerite Johnson Hotz

Centerville, Ohio