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Dear Ann Landers: You recently printed a letter from a woman who had seen four physicians, and not one of them had suggested that she lose weight to help control her high blood pressure. She found out on her own that losing weight would be beneficial, and dropping 10 pounds would put her back into the normal range.

I am a physician with 32 years experience in family practice, the last six in a hospital-based clinic.

This week, I saw a woman 5 feet tall who weighed 319 pounds. She was applying for a job, and I needed to know the nature of the work. Was there lifting, climbing, reaching, bending? Was there adequate work space for a person of her size? Twenty minutes later, the hospital's patient advocate called me in. It seems the patient had filed a complaint against me because I had mentioned her weight.

Ann, it is not uncommon for me to see three or four patients whose combined weight equals half a ton. Yet I have been cursed and reported for bringing up the subject of weight. I am a compassionate physician and enjoy the respect of a large number of patients and peers, but it seems that I do not have the right to mention weight. Please comment.

-- Extremely Anonymous
Dear Ex. A.: If you are looking for an ally, you have one in me. Any physician who would ignore the vital statistics of a 5-foot-tall woman weighing 319 pounds should be forced to take his shingle down and hand over his stethoscope.

While weight should not be blamed for every medical problem, it should not be ignored. Just keep on preaching the gospel that "fat can be fatal," and know that you are saving lives.

Undying credit

Dear Ann Landers: Several months ago, I was appointed executrix of my brother's estate. For several weeks, I have been receiving mail in his name at my address, mostly from solicitors of credit card companies. I used to write on the envelope, "Deceased -- Return to Sender," but no one paid any attention to it. Now I cut up the plastic cards and return the original correspondence. Under the space for "New Address," I put the address of the cemetery. In the upper left corner of my envelope, I also put the address of the cemetery.

Am I violating any laws?

-- Fay in La Mesa, Calif.
Dear Fay: According to the Postal Service, you are not violating any laws, but neither are you doing the cemetery office any favors by transferring your headache to them.

If you want the credit card applications to stop, return the envelopes marked "Deceased -- Return to Sender." This forces the organization to pay return postage costs. It takes time, however, for your brother's name to work its way out of their computer systems, and you will have to do this repeatedly before it is effective, so be patient.

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