Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: May I chime in on the letter from "Mini-Me in Texas" (Feb. 5), who didn't want to disclose to her colleagues the fact that she'd had weight-reduction surgery? There is still enormous bias against overweight people, even from those who should know better. The perception is that the problem is a "lack of control." There is also prejudice from these same folks against individuals who seek the lap band procedure because it is regarded as "taking the easy way out."

I understand why "Mini" would prefer to keep her procedure and adjustments private. One's own body and eating habits are a private matter.

If "Mini" wants to deflect negative speculation, she can say that she is worried about her health, has sought medical advice and is following her doctor's plan to help her lose weight.

Kudos to "Mini" for improving her health. Weight loss is always a struggle, and well-meaning people should not pass judgment or interfere.

— MINI-ME SUPPORTER IN OAKLAND

DEAR SUPPORTER: Your sentiments have merit. However, I also heard from readers who responded with other options for "Mini" to consider. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Since I had gastric bypass surgery last year, I have lost more than 80 pounds. I have been frank with my friends and have offered to provide any information I can. I am also happy to let them know that I no longer have type II diabetes, acid reflux, sleep apnea or high blood pressure.

Not only is it OK for "Mini" to tell people about her surgery, she should celebrate it as I do, and help others by letting them know not only what she did, but also how wonderful she's feeling now.

— LIGHTER NOW IN MINNESOTA

DEAR ABBY: I, too, had lap band surgery a year ago. When folks comment on my weight loss, I say, "Isn't it great? I feel fabulous!" When they ask how I lost the weight, I tell them that I eat less and exercise more. It's the truth without going into details.

— JILL IN IDAHO

DEAR ABBY: I liked your advice of ordering only an appetizer. Once the weight loss begins to show, people will stop questioning the smaller portion choices because they will be aware that "Mini" is on a weight-loss program.

I still need to exercise and make wise food choices. The lap band surgery for me was not a solution but a tool in helping me in my journey to lose weight.

— LOVING LIFE AGAIN

DEAR ABBY: I was so excited about my gastric bypass surgery, I told anyone who would listen. Everyone was extremely supportive. Responses ranged from "Good for you!" to curiosity about the procedure.

"Mini" has nothing to be ashamed of. And it's not a sign of weakness or "taking the easy way out" because there's nothing easy about weight-loss surgery.

— MINIER-ME IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ABBY: The lap band procedure has become so prevalent that my husband's surgeon issues wallet-sized cards to present to servers when requesting child-sized meals. So far, all restaurants have recognized and honored these cards.

— E.J.M. IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR ABBY: Being open about the surgery and successful weight loss can inspire others as well as reinforce the positive changes she has introduced into her life. It turns out the folks I didn't want to tell have become my biggest cheerleaders.

— HAPPY LOSER IN KANSAS

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.