DR. WALLACE: I'm 16, overweight and miserable. Both of my parents are obese, and so is my older brother. All of our extra weight is due to food addiction. We tend to eat quite a bit at social gatherings. Mom is a housewife, and Dad works at an insurance office, so they are not very active. My brother and I ride our bikes — once in a while.
I am happy to say that I finally got tired of being overweight, and I'm in the process of losing weight under the direction and guidance of a licensed nutritionist who attends our church. I'm doing pretty well, and I'm hoping to convince my family to join me in my quest to start losing weight.
I am counting on the health approach to convince them to eat properly. Will you please tell me the physical problems that can result from a person being overweight? Maybe they will listen and learn. — Anonymous, Saint Joseph, Missouri
ANONYMOUS: There is direct link between excess weight and the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight is also suspected to increase the probability of developing high blood pressure. All of these serious ailments can affect the quality of life — and even shorten it.
It's possible that your family members will change their eating habits once they observe the positive changes taking place in your life. Be willing to share your progress with them, but do not preach or pressure them — especially early on in your program. If you are successful over time, they may come around to your way of thinking. My best wishes for a successful journey.
KEEP NICE GIFT WITHOUT REIMBURSEMENT
DR. WALLACE: I'm 17, and I have had a pen pal from Ireland for two years. We write to each other about once a month. I really look forward to his letters. He is extremely informative and friendly. Our correspondence is strictly along the platonic lines. Last week, I celebrated my 17th birthday, and I was surprised to get a package from Ireland. When I opened it, I found a beautiful Erin wool sweater that was knitted by Patrick's grandmother. My mother looked up Erin wool sweaters on the internet and found that some hand-knit ones sell for over $200!
My mom thought that giving a $200 gift was a bit too much and wants to send Patrick $200 dollars to reimburse his grandmother for the cost of the wool and her time.
I disagree. I feel sending Patrick this money or his gift back would be tacky. Your opinion would be appreciated. — Pen Pal, Dover, Delaware
PEN PAL: Do not seek to reimburse Patrick for his gift. Let him know how special it is and tell him that you will put it to good use this winter. I hear it can get quite cool in Dover. And send a thank-you note to his grandmother.
Also, remember you are not obligated to give Patrick a gift on his birthday. A nice birthday card with a personalized greeting inside will suffice.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.