freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger Cutting edge health advice: call obese people fat… | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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Well, well, well. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any sillier with the shake-up of the NHS and all the shenanigans surrounding it, some new health minister comes up with a real gem.

Anne Milton – who was speaking to the BBC in a personal capacity, she hastened to add – has really nailed it with this one. Call people fat instead of obese, she says – as if this will magically solve the obesity problem. Blimey, I wish I’d thought of that.

Apparently Ms Milton does think it will help more people lose weight because, as she said, if she looks in the mirror and thinks she’s obese, she’s less worried that if she thinks she’s fat. Has she gone mad? Oh hang on, there’s more. She says that calling people fat instead of obese will encourage – and here we go with the government’s new health slogan – “personal responsibility”.

If I hear that one more time I think I’ll scream. Yes, yes, we get it – we all need to take more personal responsibility for our health and wellbeing. Shut up about it already, and I’ll tell you why.

Number one: Many people are taking personal responsibility for their health, and have been doing so for some time. Stop preaching to us. It’s incredibly tedious.

Number two: Those who don’t take personal responsibility for their health aren’t doing so because they can’t or they don’t have the wealth, knowledge or the motivation to do so, and need a little help (some need more of a push). Calling them fat instead of obese isn’t going to do the trick (I mean, good grief, what was she thinking?).

You can call someone with a weight problem whatever you like, and it’s not going to make any difference. If anything, it’s the other way around – obese is actually a useful term because it applies to those who are more than overweight (overweight being described as having a BMI of over 25 and below 30, while obese is described as having a BMI of 30+). Fat can mean anything from feeling a little bloated or carrying a couple of extra pounds of weight to being significantly overweight – it’s a general term that, as far as I’m aware, has no official medical definition.

I wonder if Ms Milton has actually spoken to what she’d call a fat person to find out exactly how they feel about how they’re labelled. Hmm, I doubt it. Has she taken the time to speak to those who are working in the weight-loss field, the good people who are trying to help others lose weight on a day-to-day basis? Probably not.

So if you’re reading this, Anne, here’s some advice: You’re a health minister now, what you say will be reported, analysed and commented on endlessly. So why don’t you try thinking before you speak (even if it is in a personal capacity)?