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As millions of Floridians get ready to file their income taxes, it’s important to bring attention to the tax for the Iraq war, which has cost Florida $28.7 billion and counting. The human and economic costs of the Iraq war have been enormous. Over 4,000 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began. Around 30,000 more have been wounded. Yet President Bush, along with U.S. Representatives Tom Feeney and Ric Keller, have no exit strategy.

Constituents of Feeney and Keller have already paid $2.5 billion for the Iraq war. Economists say the President’s reckless Iraq war will cost the United States at least $3 trillion dollars and will inflict damage to the economy for decades to come. The best example of this trend is that gas prices have soared, with oil hovering at or above $100 a barrel, more than triple the price before the Iraq war began. Gas has gone up almost $2 on average nationwide. Unemployment has increased by almost 1 percent and the ranks of the uninsured have increased by 8 million under President Bush’s watch.

What will happen to the national economy, the price of gas and the chance for energy independence if troops stay in Iraq? When will enough be enough? When will the economic costs inflicted on the average Floridian be enough for Bush, Feeney and Keller to change course? Never, according to their rhetoric.

Matt Shapiro, Orlando

Inspired by Rick Jones’ comments `“Mail Sack,” April 10` on Billy’s WrestleManiArt coverage `“Blister,” April 3`: What about a wrestling show put on by pro artists?

Brian Feldman, Orlando

Marianne Kirby is right to be against dieting `“Fat power!,” Jan. 31`. Last year Traci Mann, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at UCLA, published the results of a meta-analysis of 31 long-term studies that had followed people for between two and five years on a range of diets. As reported in The Guardian, “Her results, published in the April issue of the journal American Psychologist, concluded that most would have been better off not dieting. ‘Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back.’

“Repeatedly losing and gaining weight has been linked in previous studies to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and altered immune function.”

According to Mann’s study, 83 percent of dieters gained all their weight loss back within five years, with more than half ending up 11 or more pounds heavier. This was my personal experience. Having been exceptionally thin as a child and adolescent, I began gaining weight around the age of 23 and added pounds steadily despite repeated attempts to “shape up” with diets and exercise. In 2006 I had a body mass index of 35 (obese), but one day while doing my daily exercise I heard a obesity researcher, Robert H. Lustig, M.D., interviewed and he gave me a whole new perspective.

Lustig said obesity wasn’t the result of moral failings like gluttony and sloth. His research demonstrates that obesity results from a diet high in sugar, especially fructose, and low in fiber. In other words, the modern diet.

The data shows that fiberless, fructose-saturated foodstuffs increase blood insulin levels. That interferes with leptin signaling in the brain. Leptin is a protein the brain uses to regulate the body’s energy balance. Excess insulin stimulates dopamine neurotransmission, and that in turn blocks normal leptin signaling.

Dopamine reinforces the reward response in the pleasure center of the brain and the net result is that we overeat in spite of ourselves. We feel hungry when we should feel full.

Instead of dieting, we simply need to switch to a diet that’s high in fiber and low in sugar. I did that, and a year later my body mass index had dropped from 35 to 28 and never went back up. For the first time in decades, I feel in control of my weight and for the first time in decades I’m not forcing myself to eat less. I just no longer crave food I don’t need.

Richard Dunn, via the Internet

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