Parents Don't Want Doctors to Say That Kids are Fat

Health & Wellness on 10.06.11

Should doctors be more sensitive when they're telling parents that a child is overweight? That's the question posed by research in Pediatrics, which found that parents disliked hearing terms like "chubby", "fat", and "obese" used to describe their children and preferred doctors who used terms like "unhealthy weight".

Time Healthland reports on the study, quoting lead author Rebecca Puhl, director of research at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity: "Many people find the term 'fat' to be pejorative and judgmental," she says. "A lot of the time, providers have positive intentions, but the language they use can be seen as blaming, accusatory and not helpful."

Parents also said that "the terms they found most offensive were also the most stigmatizing and least likely to cause their children to actually take action to lose weight," says the article. Only 36 percent of the 445 parents in the study said that they would put their child on a diet as a result of hearing those terms; phrases like "unhealthy weight" and "weight problem" were more likely to motivate families to make healthy changes.

The study's author points out that "instilling shame" won't get families anywhere, and won't make kids any healthier. But do you think the word obese -- a medical term -- should be off limits because it makes parents uncomfortable?

More from Time Healthland.

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