CAROLINE Wilson's article ("Society has 'empathy blind spot' over obesity", The Herald, October 4) contained the usual soundbites of "poor me" stories from the obese complaining at their perceived shoddy treatment from the medical profession and the leaner members of the public, combined with a little self-flagellation from one of the medically qualified speakers at the event.

I suspect that one of the problems is that obesity is usually very insidious in its onset, although its onset seems to be from an ever-earlier age. When I look at the pictures of me and my late wife in our primary school class photographs of the late 1950s, I see rows of bean poles. Fast forward to comparable photographs of our three children in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and there are one or two of a plump disposition, but the large majority are still thin as rakes. Now, about 25 per cent of 10-11-year-olds are frankly obese.

The causes are multi-factorial, and the cures are also multi-factorial, but tend to fall into two main groups – eating less, and exercising more.

Whenever an increase in activity is recommended, people tend to think in terms of gyms and jogging. However, I sometimes wonder if the contribution to energy expenditure of routine domestic activity has also been overlooked.

When meeting a new patient and gathering general information about them, I will ask: "What do you do with your spare time? What hobbies and interests do you have?". Some will reply "Gardening" and/or "DIY".

My earliest memories of gardening involve pushing a heavy cast-iron Qualcast lawnmower, and manually-powered shears for hedge and shrub-trimming. Similarly, DIY used to require wielding a tenon saw or plane to cut or smooth wood, hand-powered drills and screwdrivers. Now, we use powered hover-mowers (sometimes even ride-on models) and trimmers, and similar mechanisation has been long established with carpentry.

We used to walk to the local shops two or three times a week for groceries and other food items. Now, many of us don't even go to the supermarket once a week – our food (and a lot of other things) are delivered to our door.

Finally, during the colder months of the year, even in houses of the comfortably-off, it used to be the case that there were just two warm rooms – a living room and the kitchen. The rest of the house (bedrooms and bathroom, etc) were freezing cold. Now, widespread use of central heating has reduced the amount of calories that we need to expend to keep warm.

Mind you, I really blame the teachers, and the decline in organised religion.

Christopher W Ide, Waterfoot.


THANK you to George Herraghty (Letters, October 1) for pointing out the devastating effects that wind turbines have on our bird population both on and offshore.

I would like to know how all the environmental bodies who are meant to be protecting our wildlife know that cats kill more birds than wind turbines. The carcases of most birds will never be found, being picked up by predators before they are spotted by wind farm operators who are unlikely to boast about how many birds or bats their turbines have killed. Cats don’t kill our birds of prey but wind turbines certainly do.

Cats provide companionship and act as a natural and more humane way of suppressing our rodent population rather than using poison or traps. We need them; we don’t need any more wind turbines, there are other options. I am however, the first to admit that there are too many cats killing our garden birds and other wildlife, but that is due to irresponsible owners who refuse to get them neutered, resulting in thousands of unwanted animals being abandoned and/or becoming feral and putting a never-ending strain on rescue centres throughout the country.

A bit of common sense from our politicians and certain members of the public would save countless bird lives, our precious landscapes and the sanity of the many rural residents who are being forced to live their lives surrounded by wind farms.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor.


BOB Wolfenden (Letters, October 5) avers that spoiling our landscape is an acceptable price to pay for cleaner power and in the penultimate sentence of his letter states: "We just can't have our pristine countryside and reliable power supplies without some penalties."

If only wind turbines were a reliable source of power I might agree with him, but given turbines only generate power when the wind blows they could hardly be described as "a reliable source of power". Intermittent maybe, but definitely not reliable.

And of course higher electricity bills is one of the penalties we already suffer as a result of wind worship.

And given the recognised importance of peatlands as a valuable carbon sink it is hard to understand why the wholesale destruction of peatlands is permitted by our Scottish Government given its aspirations to be world leaders in fighting climate change.

Brian Bell, Kinross.


IF Scott Macintosh (Letters October 4) is having a hard time fitting in all the required Scottish sights with his demanding cruise ship visitors, might I suggest a quick trip to Nairn, the fastest town in Scotland (try saying it quickly in an Inverness accent as if imitating a passing racing car …with no offence intended to Invernessians).

The old jokes are always the best ones.

Janice Taylor, Carluke.