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Should Obese Be Called Fat?

Posted Mar 04 2011 11:23am
Obesity epidemic has been a worldwide issue not only in developed and wealthy countries but also among many developing countries. For example, the United Kingdom (UK) has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe, with the level steadily increased over the last 10 years. According to the Department of Health in UK, almost 25 percent of adults and 14 percent of children were classified as obese in 2008.

An obese is a highly possible victim of many chronic diseases including Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart cholesterol, heart disease, atherosclerosis, stroke and certain types of cancer.

Authorities and health community have utilized all ways and means to curb the growing obesity epidemic. Recently, a government official in Europe has even suggested to call people who are obese as “fat” to motivate them to lose weight. The reason quoted by this official is that calling an obese “fat” could encourage this person to take personal responsibility for his or her lifestyles.
Most doctors and health workers tend not to use the word “fat” as they feel this will stigmatize people who are overweight or obese. However, this official believes that people will only start paying attention when they are called “fat”, and not “obese”. Patients will start doing losing weight only when they have true information about themselves.
Some doctors agreed with the official as they felt doctors need to be honest with their patients rather than telling them what they love to hear. To some doctors, the term “obese” seems to medicalize the state, and makes it a third person issue. Sometimes, for the sake of patients, doctors just need to be more brutal and honest.
Nevertheless, there were objection from other medical professionals against what the official advocated. They felt that people just do not want to be offensive. Calling a person “fat” will more likely to disgrace and harm that person. They also pointed out that obesity is something that happens to people rather than something they are. As such, they suggested using the term “obesity” to encourage patients to think about the condition in a different way.
While the approach might be different, the aim is still the same: to encourage the patient to lose weight so that he or she can be healthy. The best approach, perhaps, still depends on the relationship the doctor has with the patient and the doctor should make their judgment on a patient-by-patient basis.
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