DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law is a wonderful woman who has a severe weight problem. She's 50 years old and has no bad habits except for eating. She refuses to discuss diets and gets very upset when the subject is broached. She's beginning to experience signs of deteriorating health -- shortness of breath, chest tightness, extreme redness in her face when she's warm or upset, and she has painful back and knee problems. She has fallen down stairs because she was unable to see the steps.
Abby, she refuses to see a doctor, my brother tells me, because she knows a doctor will confront her about her weight. I suggested she should at least have her blood pressure taken at the local pharmacy. She ignores me.
I believe she needs psychological care. I can't bear to lose her, and I fear that she will die soon if she doesn't try to help herself. -- SCARED FOR MY SISTER-IN-LAW, IN MILWAUKEE
DEAR SCARED: Although some people use food the way junkies and alcoholics use drugs and alcohol, I know of no intervention program for people with life-threatening weight problems. Indeed, she may need psychological help in order to win her battle. However, unless she is willing to admit that she has a problem and takes steps to overcome it, there is nothing you or anyone else can do for her. She has my deepest sympathy.