I was disappointed to see the emphasis on weight loss and dieting in the article about a female athlete by Mark Emmert in the sports section of the Maine Sunday Telegram (“UMaine’s Heise benefits from summer dedication,” Dec. 21).

The writer could have focused on the hard work and determination that Anna Heise demonstrated in order to achieve her goal of improving physical fitness for basketball. That is certainly commendable. While Emmert did do this, the primary focus from start to finish was on her weight loss.

It was also pointed out that Heise has been following a no-carbohydrate diet. While popular, this diet fad will not lead to sustained long-term health and wellness, particularly for an athlete.

She could have improved her health just by eating a wide variety of foods daily, including grains and carbohydrates, and engaging in physical activity. Even if this had not led to weight loss, her health and fitness would have improved.

We need to open our eyes to the deleterious effects of focusing on body size and seeing success as weight loss as opposed to taking good care of ourselves regardless of body size. The pressures to lose weight lead many down a dangerous path that does not improve physical or mental health.

J. Eric Oliver, author of the 2006 book “Fat Politics,” states: “If a woman is incredibly fit but still bulky or heavy, she is still likely to face size discrimination.

“The emphasis on female fitness is primarily concerned with being thin not necessarily being healthy. Because of our cultural obsession with thinness, any discussion of exercise inevitably becomes connected to issues of weight while concerns about health fly out the window.”

— Special to the Telegram