An Anti-Obesity Drug and Cultural Stigmas

More from our inbox:

  • Seeking More Insight Into Republican Voters
  • Scandal at Liberty University
  • Free Analysis?

Credit…Alice Rosati/Trunk Archive

To the Editor:

Re “Ozempic Can’t Fix What Our Culture Has Broken,” by Tressie McMillan Cottom (column, Oct. 15):

By “broken” in the headline, the column implies that we still perpetuate a cultural bias against obese people.

Yes, we do stigmatize fat people. I’m fat. What’s also broken, though, is our habit of blaming society for failing to accept us, and medical institutions for failing to fix us, before we take an honest look at our own choices contributing to becoming unhealthy in the first place.

Clearly obesity is an epidemic with complex environmental, economic and genetic factors. But for most, physical activity and healthy eating are still nature’s best prevention and remedy. Unlike Ozempic, they’re not a sexy quick fix. They’re work.

Maybe healthy eating and activity are just too simple. But viewing ourselves first as victims of unfair systems is also not the answer.

Society will always judge. Institutions will always be profit-driven. Blaming is easy. Honest self-assessment and changing habits are hard.

Leslie Dunn
Carmel, Calif.

To the Editor:

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s fine column covers almost all the issues that I, as a slightly overweight but not obese woman, have with the new weight-loss drugs.

But one issue needs to be addressed: What will we think about and how will we treat people (women) who choose not to take this drug, for whatever reason? Maybe it’s because it’s too expensive; maybe because it’s a commitment to a lifetime of taking the drug; maybe it’s just, amazingly, because they are comfortable in their rounded, plush bodies, and don’t desire to change them. Will they face even more opprobrium for that choice than they already do?

I’ve spent the last 66 years (and counting) being told that my body isn’t “right,” by doctors, family and society. I’ve just finally come to terms with the fact that I’m stuck in it, and I’m lucky to be able to wake up every morning and get out of bed. Isn’t that enough?

Naomi Weisberg Siegel

To the Editor:

While I agree with the author on many points, one point she didn’t address effectively is that Ozempic and other weight-loss drugs help cover up a main culprit that is causing our obesity: the U.S. food industry and “ultraprocessed foods.”

Up until about the 1980s the U.S. didn’t have such a serious obesity problem. Then sugar began being added to everything, along with other things not found in any garden or kitchen.

Dr. McMillan Cottom points out that people can be obese and be healthy, but that is not true of most obese people. Ozempic was created because of rampant diabetes in the U.S., the risk of which is increased by eating ultraprocessed foods.

Our food industry is killing us with slow deaths from chronic diseases.

Deborah Jerard
Montpelier, Vt.
The writer is a pediatrician.

Seeking More Insight Into Republican Voters

Why These 11 Republican Voters Like Trump But Might Bail on Him

The group discusses what it would take for a candidate other than Trump to win their vote.

To the Editor:

Re “Could These Republican Voters Abandon Trump?” (“America in Focus” series, Opinion, Oct. 22):

This piece was disturbing but unenlightening about why voters support Donald Trump.

Focus groups are supposed to probe for deeper understanding of participants’ views, yet your moderator accepted answers without delving into how participants reached those views.

For example, when Cristian said about Donald Trump that “he does get things done,” the moderator could have asked for specifics. It would have been an interesting answer because Mr. Trump actually got very little done.

The most glaring omission was Mr. Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election. Do participants agree with Mr. Trump? Where do they get their news? Does this issue even matter to them?

We have known for months that Mr. Trump maintains strong voter support. We might have gotten some insight into why had the moderators asked more clarifying questions.

Ann Laubach
Austin, Texas

To the Editor:

First, I will applaud both Kristen Soltis Anderson for her skilled questions and moderation, as well as Patrick Healy and the Times Opinion team for sticking with your amazing series, most recently “Could These Republican Voters Abandon Trump?” Fascinating stuff.

But just like the infamous CNN town hall with Donald Trump, it leaves an urgent set of questions. Mainly these:

1. What about the criminal cases against Mr. Trump?

2. What about climate change and the green agenda?

Without understanding in depth these 11 Republicans on these topics, I just don’t see how I can evaluate. Of course, I recognize that these individuals have most likely completely dismissed these entire areas of thought. Nonetheless, to understand the situation in my country, I need to see what rationales they are using to do that.

George Odell
Newburyport, Mass.

Scandal at Liberty University

Credit…Julia Rendleman for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Worst Scandal in American Higher Education,” by David French (column, Oct. 23):

Thank you to Mr. French for bringing the truly appalling behavior of Liberty “University” officials to our attention. Yet while he reports that the $37.5 million fine Liberty might face would be “unprecedented,” I can’t help but wonder why the Department of Education wouldn’t strip Liberty of its accreditation altogether, making it ineligible to receive federal money.

Such a move is long overdue, and not just because Liberty has lied about campus crime and pressured victims of sexual assault to stay quiet. Liberty, and a host of other Christian institutions, are not colleges in the critical sense. These are places where answers precede questions, where intellectual exploration is hemmed in by theological dogma, and where basic tenets of academic freedom are treated as optional.

Why should taxpayers be funding education at such places at all?

Steven Conn
Yellow Springs, Ohio
The writer is a professor of history at Miami University.

Free Analysis?

Credit…James Albon

To the Editor:

“How Do You Charge a Friend for a Professional Favor?” (Business,, Oct. 21):

Another favor-asking situation that commonly occurs is asking physicians, be they friends or a recent acquaintance at a social event, for free medical opinions or even advice. The many ways of handling those situations would warrant an entire New York Times article.

There is another common experience that occurs when one is introduced to someone as a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst or therapist in nonprofessional settings.

Such introductions often evoke the question, “Are you analyzing me?” To which I almost always respond, “Not if you’re not paying me.” And we move on.

Jack Drescher
New York
The writer, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, is past president of the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry.

Back to top button