There may be health risks in “The risk-reversal diet” (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 24). Indeed, research points to carbohydrates for the rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes, but the suggestion of a LCHF (low-carbohydrates, high-fat) diet is unwarranted. If we suddenly switched to fat, perhaps then fat would become the primary culprit in the long run, and we would be back where we started. “It’s still unclear how the higher amounts of animal protein and fat in the Atkins diet affect long-term health,” according to WebMD.

There’s nothing new here. The Atkins LCHF diet was a fad in the 1960s, but the Mayo Clinic website states that “over the long term, though, studies show that low-carb diets like the Atkins Diet are no more effective for weight loss than are standard weight-loss diets and that most people regain the weight they lost regardless of diet plan.”

Furthermore, eliminating carbohydrates may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The real culprit is refined carbohydrates. The Mayo Clinic website states that “studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation. … A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.” So there is a potential downside to restricting carbohydrates, the only source of fiber. We should just avoid refined carbohydrates, those with fiber and micronutrients removed, and use whole carbohydrates.

Bill Hamer, Apple Valley

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Is it any wonder we are confused about how to maintain our health? On the front page of the Opinion Exchange section last Sunday, an article by Paul John Scott makes a lengthy and compelling case supporting a low-carb, high-fat diet to avoid and reverse diabetes. Scott advises no more than 10 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates and 70 percent from fat, while avoiding “bread, pastry, pasta, potatoes, juices and sugar.” When I finished the opinion section, I picked up Science & Health and found another cover story on food — this one headlined “Eat healthier, heal the planet.” This one recommends a diet of the equivalent of 1 tablespoon of red meat a day and 35 percent of daily calories from “whole grains, including rice, wheat and corn, and starchy tubers like potatoes and cassava.” I read the Star Tribune every day to keep informed, but sometimes I wind up confused.

Dave Kostik, Richfield

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Several years ago, trying to lose weight because I was nearly obese and my cholesterol was too high, I had joined one, then another weight loss support group. Together we struggled, trying to follow government recommendations as well as medical ones that told us to eat a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet recommending a lot of whole grain carbohydrates. Most of us were not succeeding. Doing research on my own, I decided to try a higher-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. At the same time, I had a medical problem that involved a lot of testing. I not only saw my weight go down easily, but my total cholesterol went down and HDL went up — just the opposite of what my doctor said would happen if I ate eggs and butter. I have easily kept my goal weight in the last couple of years, never going hungry, but avoiding grains and sugar.

There is only one disagreement I have with the “risk-reversal diet” article. It seems to imply that we followed some culturally errant ideas about what we should be eating, rejecting diets from our parents’ or grandparents’ days. Most of us tried faithfully to follow diets directed by the medical system or government recommendations. We followed what we thought people who knew better than our elders, government people or academics who had more scientific background. This low-fat, low-calorie diet didn’t just breeze around the culture like a popular fad.

Hopefully, more people will change their diet as these people did and improve their health. This in turn will lower society’s medical costs.

Margaret A. Wood, Bloomington


The good and bad on education and on childhood development

Regarding “This budget reflects the morals of Minnesotans,” by Gov. Tim Walz (Feb. 24): I agree with the governor’s stance that the Legislature needs to beef up education spending in the next years. For too long, our students have taken a back seat to tax cuts that have done little to benefit this great state in the long run. We need to fix the gross imbalances that exist between metro and outstate schools, and between diverse and less-than-diverse districts. We also need to get back to why in the past so many major corporations decided to be based in Minnesota, and that is because our education system was superior. But no longer, due to years of tax cuts and robbing from the education budget to fund other programs. Minnesota needs to return to the Great State of Education that it used to be.

Janet Tollund, Bloomington

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It was encouraging that Walz’s commentary on his budget calls for policies that are research- and evidence-based. When it comes to investing in early childhood development, the research and evidence is overwhelming: Providing low-income parents access to high-quality early learning programs, starting as early as birth, yields some of the highest societal returns. Indeed, investing in a child’s early years of development is one of the best investments we can make in our economy, far better at creating jobs and a quality workforce than virtually any other public investment.

So it was disappointing that the governor’s budget provides no new funding for an early childhood initiative that is working throughout the state — early learning scholarships. Minnesota has 35,000 children living in poverty without access to early childhood programs. Minnesota has a gross state product that exceeds $350 billion a year. Surly we can find new funds to invest in these children. And hopefully, the Legislature and the governor will not only increase funding for early learning scholarships now, but will make a long-term commitment that all children in our state will have the opportunity to succeed.

Art Rolnick, Plymouth

The writer, retired, was a researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.


Look to the Legislature to rein in arbitration

D.J. Tice unfairly criticizes the Minnesota Supreme Court in his Feb. 24 column (“Arbitrators can’t be wrong, can they?”) on the failings of our current laws requiring binding arbitration of law enforcement disciplinary matters. The fault lies not at the feet of the judges, but those of the Legislature, local governments and the forces within them that refuse to take corrective action.

As the court noted in the opening paragraphs of its opinion, state law requires that law enforcement and other collective bargaining agreements provide for binding arbitration. Once entered into, these agreements are subject to a well-developed body of law governing the powers of arbitrators, powers controlled by both the relevant statutes and the terms of the agreement. Law enforcement unions can be expected to and do insist on favorable terms in these agreements, terms that lead directly to situations such as that faced by the city of Richfield in its efforts to discharge an officer who had repeatedly ignored rules requiring reports of an officer’s use of force.

There are two ways to address this situation. The first is for the Legislature to step up and revise the mandatory arbitration laws to provide local government the power to discharge an officer when, in its sole judgment, the officer’s continuing presence on the force constitutes a threat to public safety. The second is for local government to demand such a clause in their collective bargaining agreements with law enforcement unions.

The people of Minnesota and our law enforcement officers are entitled to protection from the few whose actions directly endanger the rights and lives of the populace and discredit the efforts of other officers.

James M. Hamilton, St. Paul

Opinion editor’s note: A commentary scheduled for Monday’s Opinion Exchange page further examines the issue of labor law and arbitration.