Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m an avid reader of your teen column, but sometimes you really make me angry when you encourage overweight teens to lose weight. It so happens that I’m overweight and enjoy being big and beautiful. My boyfriend is also big and handsome, and boy, do we enjoy going out to dinner!

You must think that all overweight people are unhappy and want to lose weight --wrong! I’ll keep reading your column, but I refuse to take your advice to lose weight.

— Living Large,

Southaven, Mississippi

Dear Living Large: Overweight teens often contact me to find out the fastest, safest way to lose weight because they feel being obese hinders either their health or social life. Counting calories, eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly is usually what I recommend. I also remind overweight teens that obesity is responsible for many ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. I encourage overweight teens to lose weight for a myriad of reasons, but my concern for their health is paramount.

I’m aware that some overweight people enjoy it that way and don’t want to change their lifestyle. I absolutely respect your right to choose your own path in life. To you and your boyfriend, I wish you both happiness and long, healthy lives, and I thank you for being a regular reader of our column.

Dear Dr. Wallace: Do you think that high school athletic teams should have the best players on the squad regardless of whether the players include guys and girls? I’m writing a term paper on the subject and would like to include your opinion. It’s interesting that several of my friends have different opinions on this topic, and most of them have different, specific reasons for their opinions. What’s your take on this topic? I recall reading that you are a former varsity high school basketball coach.

Curious,

Orlando, Florida

Dear Curious: I’m a major fan of women’s sports and proud of the progress female athletes have made in my lifetime. I especially enjoy watching women’s college basketball and the WNBA. I do feel each gender should participate exclusively on teams of the same gender, be it at the high school, college or professional level.

By no means does this mean that women are lesser athletes. Men are usually taller and heavier than women. And in most sports, strength and size make the difference, and these attributes are extremely important to team success. That’s why I firmly believe the sexes should be separated in athletics. As good as the female college basketball players are, it would be quite difficult for them to compete in the National Basketball Association. The same is true for the National Football League and Major League Baseball.

I do absolutely agree that a small percentage of girls are good enough to play on the high school boys teams. However, I still don’t think they should. As harsh as that sounds, I say this for good reason. These highly talented girls are the best ambassadors, by far, for girls sports programs. If the best talent is siphoned off to the boys teams, it would hinder the girls teams overall.

Many people are bound to disagree, and this is a great topic worthy of rigorous debate. As a columnist, I have my opinion, and I respect yours and those that others hold as well. I wish all athletes of each gender great success, sportsmanship and camaraderie in playing their chosen sports. And yes, I truly enjoyed my days as a high school basketball coach in the states of Illinois, Arizona and California back in the day!

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.