As a resident of Howard County and a member of the board of directors of the Horizon Foundation, I give three cheers for Nikki Highsmith Vernick's article on a health issue that will prove to be one of the most challenging of the 21st century ("A healthier way to snack," May 15). Her insightful and provocative article was an excellent complement to recent HBO special "The Weight of the Nation."

Her article is the product of months of research and study by the Horizon Foundation and the board's decision to tackle head on the "largest single source of added sugar in our children's diets and a major source of excess calories."

Already, we are seeing mild response from the beverage industry in full page ads promoting more choices and smaller portions — ads that attempt to skirt the real issue, to wit, their products are killing our children. Offering smaller portions just means that the children will be killed more slowly, and that is no solace.

I have sent the article to everyone whose e-mail address I have and hope that they will take its message as seriously as my wife and I have.

David H. Barrett, Ellicott City