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NHS should use the term "fat", not "obese"

A health minister has said that GPs should tell overweight people they are fat and not obese.

Patients are more likely to be motivated to lose weight if the term fat is used, Anne Milton said.

She added that people must learn to take "personal responsibility" for their lifestyles.

Stressing she was speaking in a personal capacity, she told the BBC: "If I look in the mirror and think I am obese I think I am less worried [than] if I think I am fat."

Too many staff working in the NHS were worried about using the term, Ms Milton said. She added: "At the end of the day you cannot do it for them. People have to have the information."

It comes as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) publishes guidelines on pregnancy, saying NHS staff are dealing with "an epidemic of obesity" among pregnant women.

Copyright © Press Association 2010


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Whilst I can appreciate Ann Milton's point, I would argue that we must be sensitive to people's feelings and also to the connotations attached to the words we use. ‘Fat' is offensive to me and is not a term I would be comfortable using. Calling someone fat somehow attaches blame and that is something I think we should move away from in weight loss management if it is to be successful. In the USA they are using IT to help with weight loss. Maintaining weight loss is the key and that is what we should be looking at" - Sue Perrin

"I am concerned about the comment, "If I look in the mirror and think I am obese I think I am less worried [than] if I think I am fat." If you are less worried, does it not follow that you are less inclined to do anything about it?" - Helen Gregory