Labeling the fattest category of people as “morbidly” obese is offensive, Woke researchers said today.
And they urged doctors and scientists to stop labeling unsuccessful attempts to lose weight as “failures.”
Future use of terms should include “ineffective” or “inadequate” weight loss, or even “secondary weight gain.”
No specific suggestions have been made to replace the term ‘morbid’, although ‘strict’ is often used instead.
Critics today slammed the recommendation, published in a leading obesity journal, saying it was “strange” because morbid obesity is a clinical term.
However, industry experts agreed that “less stigmatizing” language was crucial in the fight against exploitation, saying “words really do matter”.
Joe Nadglowski, president of the Obesity Action Coalition, said: “The old expression ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me’ doesn’t apply to people with obesity.”
It comes after a separate team of researchers claimed the word obesity is racist and should be dropped in favor of “people with larger bodies”.
It is insulting to refer to the fattest category of people as “morbidly” obese, thereby saying that their attempt at weight loss was a “failure.”
More than 42 million adults in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2040, according to new projections from Cancer Research UK
The proposed change in obesity language was made by a group of British experts writing in the journal Obesity, which bills itself as “the most important source of information… for people living with obesity”.
The researchers analyzed 3,000 scientific papers on bariatric surgery, which includes gastric bands and bypasses.
They wanted to see “how often negative terminology is used”.
About 2.4 percent of the work reviewed contained the word “fail,” while 16.8 percent used “morbid.”
Sixteen patients trying to lose weight were also asked over the phone how the language made them feel.
HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR BODY MASS INDEX AND WHAT IT MEANS
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat percentage based on your weight in relation to your height.
- BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703
- BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))
- Below 18.5: underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
- 25. – 29.9: overweight
- 30. – 39.9: overweight
- 40+: Morbidly overweight
Some said it left them in tears and avoided seeking medical help for up to 20 years.
They emphasized that the word “failure” implies personal responsibility for a lack of weight loss, suggesting that a lack of willpower or self-control is to blame.
Meanwhile, the team claimed that “morbid” can mean “unhealthy.” One participant called it a “terrifying” sentence.
Lead author Richard Welbourn, a bariatric surgeon working at Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset, said: “All healthcare professionals should be aware of this research and consider its use of language when discussing obesity with colleagues and patients.
“Judgement-free, standardized terminology can help patients feel confident when engaging in a conversation about weight and possible treatment options.”
Mr Nadglowski, who was not involved in the inquiry, said: “Our words really matter.
“Poor or outdated language damages the doctor-patient relationship and ultimately deters people with obesity from seeking or receiving care.
“It’s time we prioritized better language around obesity.”
Christopher Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank said: “Morbid obesity is a clinical term, so it seems odd to be telling clinicians and academics not to use it.
“It is called morbid obesity because a BMI over 35 is associated with a higher risk of death than overweight and mildly obese.
Analysis by Cancer Research UK shows 71 per cent of people could be overweight or obese by 2040. Of these, almost 36 percent adults (21 million) are probably obese (blue dotted line). Chart shows: Projections for the proportion of healthy (grey), overweight (pink) and obese (blue) adults in the UK from 2010 to 2040
Chart shows: Projections for the proportion of men (purple) and women (pink) who will be obese in the UK from 2010 to 2040
Chart shows: Projections for the proportion of men (purple) and women (pink) who will be overweight in the UK from 2010 to 2040
“It’s not clear why an organization called the Obesity Society, writing in a journal titled Obesity, thinks people are needlessly distressed when they are labeled morbidly obese but are happy to be labeled obese.
“Maybe we should just go back to calling people fat?”
NHS obesity advice pages do not mention the words ‘morbid’ or ‘morbid’, instead saying a BMI over 40 is ‘seriously obese’.
However, the term is still used on certain parts of the healthcare website.
In the new paper, the team wrote that the “conscious effort” to change the language had been “gradual at best.”
The UK and US are currently grappling with an obesity crisis, with nearly two-thirds of adults considered to be overweight.
Experts have warned that obesity will eclipse smoking as the leading cause of cancer unless the spiraling trend is reversed.
Aiming to fight the epidemic, No10 introduced mandatory calorie labeling for restaurants, cafes and takeaways in England earlier this year, employing more than 250 people.
At the same time, however, the government postponed a ban on buy-for-one offers on unhealthy foods because of the cost-of-living crisis.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 servings of varied fruit and vegetables daily. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Base meals based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This equates to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole wheat biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole wheat bread, and 1 large baked potato with its skin on
• Have some dairy products or dairy alternatives (like soy drinks) and choose lower-fat, lower-sugar options
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water daily
• Adults should consume less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide