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GPs should tell people they are fat

29th July 2010

Public health minister for England, Anne Milton, has urged GPs and other health professionals to tell people they are fat rather than use the word obese.

obesity1

She said that using the term ‘fat’ would be more effective in motivating people to lose weight and that it was important people should take “personal responsibility” for their lifestyles.

While stressing she was speaking in a personal capacity, Ms Milton said: “If I look in the mirror and think I am obese I think I am less worried than if I think I am fat.”

Her comments came after setting out the government’s vision for public where a White Paper this autumn would stress the combined role of the individual, state, business and society.

Professor Steve Field of the Royal College of GPs agreed with Ms Milton and said he already tried to use the term fat as much as he could.

“I think the term obese medicalises the state. It makes it a third person issue. I think we need to sometimes be more brutal and honest,” he said.

The term obesity comes from the Latin word obesus, which roughly translated means intensive eating.

However, Professor Lindsey Davies, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, disagreed and warned against using the word fat.

She said: “Obesity is something that happens to people rather than something they are. The language you use all depends on the relationship you have with a patient.

“I would probably be more likely to say something like 'can we talk about your weight' rather than obesity.”

 

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