IoS letters, emails & online postings (04/12/11)

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It is disturbing that young children and teens are becoming more and more concerned about weight, body image and dieting ("Quick-fix diets drive teens to hate their bodies", 27 November). But children are developing concerns about body image because their parents are so riven by these concerns too. You can't isolate children from bad influences while these pressures run rampant through the rest of society. If you are to stop children being affected, you must do something for adults too.

Our society faces three problems. First, unrealistic images of weight and beauty. Second, we are surrounded by high-fat, high-sugar foods and no real need to be physically active in daily life. Third, the default solution to weight problems for most people is to "go on a diet". Sadly, diets don't work. The solution to our society's weight problem is to address all three of these areas for adults and children.

Dr Khandee Ahnaimugan

London W1

Important in the debate about Caesarean births is the work on benign bacteria by the Human Biome Project at the National Institute of Health ("Why I recommend the magic of a home birth", 27 November). This has found that babies born by Caesarean section apparently fail to acquire their mother's microbiota. This, with the casual use of antibiotics, may explain the rising incidence of asthma and food allergies.

John Rowe

Saltmills, New Ross, Ireland

The intriguing piece by A N Wilson on the "homing instinct" overlooks those whose childhoods were peripatetic because their parents' lives were ("We may fly the nest, but the homing instinct is an overwhelming force", 27 November). I once had a counsellor who couldn't believe I didn't have a home town, as though this was the weirdest of all the psychological conditions she had had to deal with. "So, where is 'home'?" she persisted. I had no hesitation – the city I had lived in for the past 25 years. But "home" would be somewhere else if I moved. Home is where you lay your head and where the most important people are.

Lorraine M Harding

Steeton, West Yorkshire

Your article concerning the revival of musical theatre showed two of the performers from Top Hat and asserted that the "star... is Tom Chambers". But, at the Birmingham Hippodrome, I felt that he was carried, almost literally, by his co-star, the excellent Summer Strallen, and his acting was outshone by that of Martin Ball and Stephen Boswell. He may have won Strictly ... and attracted the show's choreographer with a clip on YouTube, but that does not mean that he is a natural stage dancer.

John Crocker


The planned merger of Arts & Business UK into Business in the Community applies only to the English operation of Arts & Business after the withdrawal of funding by Arts Council England. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, Arts & Business operations are now independent and far from doomed. For example, the Scottish government recently announced further funding to Arts & Business Scotland of £300,000 for each of the next three years, enabling the continuation of the successful Scottish matching scheme that has attracted almost £2m of new business sponsorship for the arts in the past six years.

Barclay Price

Chief Executive, Arts & Business Scotland


D J Taylor notes that in relation to the news about record youth unemployment, "several major employers... hinted that there were plenty of jobs to be had" ("Daily life at the Circumlocution Office" , 27 November). I beg to differ. One of the few Grimsby-based jobs on the Directgov website now is for an elf (temporary). Hardly the sign of a thriving economy, especially as the creature in question won't be needed after 25 December.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

I disagree with D J Taylor that raising educational standards will mean Mr Gove will have "to find some way of taking on a mass culture that encourages people to be stupid". Mass culture encourages people to be lazy, with ready meals, apps, satnavs and other devices to take the thinking out of a task. This makes people ignorant, not stupid.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

In your feature Travel Woes on 27 November, the picture is not of Egypt. It is taken at the temples at Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, from an unusual angle and, true, looking rather sphinx-like.

Marjorie Willcocks


Knitting the Olympics is not new ("Knit one, purl one, win the gold", 27 November). Much Wenlock doctor William Penny Brookes, a father of the modern Olympics, included in his schedule "Knitting: for girls". The first prize was 7/6 (38p), second prize 2/6.

Jillian Wallace

Shrewsbury, Shropshire

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