Health staff told to shun word ‘obese’

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Telling overweight patients they are obese could be seen as “derogatory”, a health watchdog has warned.

Public health workers have been told patients may respond better if they are encouraged to achieve a “healthier weight” rather than being labelled obese, under draft guidance by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice).

The Nice advice urges health professionals to use “appropriate language” to help obese patients.

It said: “The term ‘obesity’ may be unhelpful – while some people may like to ‘hear it like it is’, others may consider it derogatory. 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.”

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “This is extremely patronising. They should be talking to people in an adult fashion.”