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Szasz, T. (2003). Obesity in the young. The New York Times, [Letters], December 22.

Obesity in the Young

December 22, 2003

To the Editor:

The medicalization of undisciplined eating has reached a new height with the Food and Drug Administration's effective approval of Xenical for the "treatment" of obese teenagers (news article, Dec. 16).

A spokesman for Hoffman-La Roche, the manufacturer, said this was good news for children who battle obesity.

In fact, it is catastrophic for adolescents in particular and for society in general.

Xenical, we learn, "has several unpleasant side effects, including problems with bowel control, and it works best when combined with a low-calorie diet that limits foods high in fat." A diet low enough in calories is by definition effective in preventing obesity.

If we do not expect adolescents to exercise self-control over the foods they eat, over which behaviors do we expect them to exercise self-control?

Syracuse, Dec. 16, 2003

The writer is a psychiatrist.


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