Obesity a derogatory word claims nanny quango NICE
The word ‘obesity’ could be considered ‘derogatory’ and public health professionals should use it with care, according to the nanny quango NICE.A quarter of adults in Britain are now obese, a figure that is due to more than double by 2050. Those from poorer backgrounds are much more likely to be obese than the more affluent.
But a government quango is now advising public health experts drawing up anti-obesity plans around the country to avoid using the ‘obese’ word itself for fear of upsetting people.
Health campaigners have night attacked the softly softly approach, describing it as “extremely patronising”.
Under draft guidance issued by the National Institute for Curbing Expenditure (Nice), those who are obese should merely be encouraged to get down to a “healthier weight”.
The guidance states that public health professionals should know “the appropriate language to use”, advising them: “Referring to ‘achieving a healthy weight’ may be more acceptable for some people.”
The document continues: “Directors of public health and local government communications leads should carefully consider the type of language and media to use to communicate about obesity.
“For example, it might be better to refer to a ‘healthier weight’ rather than ‘obesity’ – and to talk more generally about health and wellbeing or specific community issues.”
Ironically, the advice is contained in a paper that makes no bones about its subject matter: it is called Obesity: Working with Local Communities.
But Nice officials concluded that while the term was fine for health professionals to use among themselves, they should handle it with care in public.
They warned: “The term ‘obesity’ may be unhelpful – while some people may like to ‘hear it like it is’, others may consider it derogatory.”
However, Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “This is extremely patronising. They should be talking to people in an adult fashion.”
“There should be no problem with using the proper terminology. If you beat around the bush then you muddy the water.”
Obesity is a medical term, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. BMI is calculated by dividing one’s weight in kilograms by the square of one’s height in metres.
Mr Fry went on: “Obesity is a well defined, World Health Organisation standard that everybody can understand.”
“It is the point where the individual is so overweight that they are at risk of other health problems.”
Squeamishness over use of the word is not new. When the National Child Measurement Programme was launched in 2008, Department of Health officials decided against using the words “fat” or “obese” in letters to parents. They were simply told their son or daughter was overweight.
Such fears of upsetting people are not shared by Anne Milton, the Public Health Minister. Two years ago she said that people should be told they were “fat” rather than “obese” because she felt the word was more hard-hitting.
She 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.”
One Comment so far:Posted by: Health Direct on May 24, 2012
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