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by Abigail Van Buren

Outspoken Brother's Remarks Weigh Heavily on His Sisters

DEAR ABBY: After having been out of the U.S. for many years, I noticed upon returning that people here seem to be much fatter. I went to a family gathering, and virtually every formerly slim member of my family had also gotten bigger.

I quietly mentioned it to one of my sisters, and word got around that I had "no manners." My other sister, "Niki," who has a degree in psychology, told me in no uncertain terms that people never talk about such things with each other.

I explained to her that mentioning it once, or discussing the ballooning of America, can be appropriate. I believe our country has fattened up because of a lazy attitude toward exercise and calories. Niki vehemently opposes my discussing it.

I learned later that she neglected to invite me to her son's wedding for fear I would say something about you-know-what to her in-laws. I admit, I don't have a silver tongue -- but I'm disappointed my favorite psychologist has blackballed me and cut off communication. It's sad to lose a sister this way. Please advise, Abby. -- BROTHER BLACK SHEEP

DEAR BROTHER BLACK SHEEP: Why do I think there's more to this story than you have written? Obesity has become an epidemic in this country, and the reasons for it are more complicated than a lazy attitude.

You don't need a "silver tongue" to apologize to your sisters for having offended them. Perhaps your "favorite psychologist" would have invited you to her son's wedding if you had been willing to apologize.

People who have weight issues know they are fat. They don't need to debate it. And they don't need you to remind them or imply they are lazy.