Obesity columnist errs by omission

In her piece "Shaq attacks childhood obesity - and other adults can do it, too" (July 7), guest columnist Paula Moore makes incomplete and biased claims while addressing the growing problem of childhood obesity in America.


Moore, an employee for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, spends nearly all of her efforts touting vegetarianism as a better alternative than eating meat. She cites "population studies" to point out differences in the obesity rates of vegans and meat-eaters while failing to mention their sources (I wonder if PETA had a hand in these studies).

Moore also omits information on the higher rates of some micronutrient deficiencies in vegetarians as compared to non-vegetarians. Her comment "This mountain of meat is making us fat," is a huge and troubling generalization; sweets and snacks such as soft drinks, candy and pastries, all a huge problem in our public schools, are far more likely to be determining factors in childhood obesity than meat, which is curiously made the overwhelming scapegoat by this PETA rep.

Perhaps the most important omission in Moore's piece is a call for physical activity. Diet change without increasing exercise has consistently shown to be ineffective in achieving and, more notably, maintaining weight loss (see the "Practical Guide" URL listed below).

I applaud any efforts by The Augusta Chronicle in promoting healthy lifestyle changes and I thank the publication for addressing such an important issue. However, I'll take Shaq's advice to get kids off of the couch over Moore's biased generalizations any day.

Good resources for information and planning related to healthy eating include the current food pyramid, available at www.mypyramid.gov, and the "Practical Guide" to obesity treatment and prevention, available at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/prctgd_c.pdf and produced by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Philip Tapley Jr., Athens

(Editor's note: The writer holds a bachelor's degree in dietetics.)