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Weight Concern statement: Fat is not an acceptable or useful term for doctors to use in raising the issue of weight.

Weight Concern was shocked and disappointed to hear the recent comments in the media by Anne Milton and others, stating that doctors should tell patients they are 'fat' on the grounds that this would shock them into action. Vicky Lawson from Weight Concern said:

"Leaving aside the worrying ethical implications of doctors being told by the Public Health Minister to call patients names to shock them into action, there is absolutely no evidence that this approach would work. It is equally likely that this 'tell them like it is' approach could be harmful. It could damage the faith a patient places in their doctor to care for and respect them. It could make them less likely to consult with their doctor on this or other health issues. In fact there is evidence that stigmatizing overweight like this actually has the opposite effect to that intended, with patients reporting using overeating as a way of coping with their distress at being judged in such a way."

Weight Concern conducted an online survey with people who have first-hand experience of being overweight. Of the 283 people who responded, 74% said they found the word 'fat' offensive.


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