Friday, December 19, 2008

The O word: The word 'obese' is banned in Britain

We read:
"Ministers banned the word 'obese' on letters to the parents of fat children - because focus groups did not like it, England's chief medical officer said today. Professor Liam Donaldson revealed that the term was replaced on letters to parents by 'very overweight' over fears it would upset and stigmatise fat children. Writing on the BBC News website he said obesity had become a taboo word or an 'O word'.

The Department of Health announced in August that for the first time parents would be routinely informed if their child was clinically overweight. Children are weighed on entering primary school (at age four or five) and in their final year (aged 10 or 11) as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.

Letters are then sent out to make parents aware of potential problems with their child's weight so they go and see their doctor about it if needed. But Professor Donaldson said that in the planning stage, a 'stumbling block' was the wording of the feedback letter. 'The majority of these parents felt that using the term "very overweight" in combination with the associated health risks was a better approach. Suddenly, we had stepped on eggshells.' He added: 'Obesity has become the new cancer. A word that is taboo, that intimidates, strikes fear, that promoted softer euphemisms. In effect it has become an "O" word.

At the time, the National Obesity Forum described the Government's decision not to use the word obese as 'prissy and namby pamby'.


The word is deliberately used by fat-warriors in a derogatory way. Strictly, it refers only to grossly overweight people but has come to be used to refer to any degree of being overweight. So we now have the amusing situation where people will hear all these furious condemnations of obesity in the media but then will all be told that it does not apply to their kid -- a very confused and confusing message. One arm of officialdom is being defeated by another arm of officialdom!


Anonymous said...

A word that is taboo, that intimidates, strikes fear...

as it should!

There's a reason AIDS, HIV and Cancer still have the same name.

Besides, this name changing game lends me to believe that they'll be changing the name every few years.

Anonymous said...

There are several problems here.

1) The term "obese" has changed meaning several times in the last 2 decades, and shows no signs of slowing it's metamorphosis into a catchall phrase for anyone sporting "love handles" or conversely not sporting a six-pack and Ahnold in his prime pecs.

2) Parents are scared to death of allowing their children to face reality. I know several such parents, who's children are truly obese - and the parents are in full-tilt denial, taking offense at any mention that little Jimmy MIGHT have a weight problem.

If Obesity is a medical condition with a solid definition, then use it. We don't tell a patient with Cancer "some of your cells are reproducing at an abnormal rate." We tell them they have Cancer.

To tell an obese child that he's just "very overweight" means that no matter how terribly round he gets, he'll never be given the correct diagnosis.

If honesty is not going to be part of the plan, scrap the whole damn plan.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is a simple one! Just stop everyone from telling parents anything negative about their children. Teachers, doctors, friends. They're all banned from saying anything negative. Ever.

So just remember that when your little chip of the old pansy-ass finally grows up to be a fat, slovenly, welfare-sucking pig that hates you, you only have you, the parent, to blame.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to "Fatty, fatty two by four....."?

Anonymous said...

It's Britain again. Of course. Hitler would have done a much better job with the place. Now it's becoming a PC wasteland. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...


I know you jest, but seriously, the playground was a microcosm of the real world. You had the bullies, the shy people, the athletes, the snobs. Sure, some people got ahead, some people got snubbed, and most just played and had fun. It also taught kids how to deal with things in a group. Unlike today's pussy whipped loser kids.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why a school is concerned by a child's weight when they should only be concerned by their education. It's not like overweight children learn differently. Let doctors give the medical diagnoses.

Anonymous said...

overweight children tend to perform better in school than their classmates who are only interested in how they look and how popular they are.
Overweight kids tend to be shunned and bullied, spend less time visiting friends (because they have fewer friends) and more time studying.

That's of course a mortal sin in a world where educational systems are meant not to teach children how to think but how to be proper cattle, be eager followers of Mother State.

Anonymous said...

Here's a beter idea, rather than sending a letter home to mom and dad that their kid is fat, something they should be able to tell on their own. Lets just send them letters saying they are too stupid to be parents.

Anonymous said...

I allowed myself to get very fat once upon a time. During that time I was in a doctor's office when the nurse asked me to "hop up on the scale," whereupon she told me I was "too fat." Taking a lesson from Sir Winston Churchill, I said, "Yeah, I'm fat and you're uglier than homemade sin; but I can lose weight."

Anonymous said...

The word "Obese" is often used in Medicine to describe the patient's condition and status. The word "Cancer" is a scary word so maybe we should stop saying it too. I guess it is easier to stop describing people as obese than it is to properly address the problem of obesity.