My choice of words

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 28 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1370

Re: My choice of words

The obsession with not upsetting patients can mean that the message will fail to be delivered. Obesity is a very real problem but not always recognised by the patient , particularly when suggesting the offspring are obese ,overweight or even fat. I doubt whether there are many patients who like to hear they have cancer but using medspeak such as "mitotic lesion" may fail to deliver the message. Of course communication takes time and there is no place for brutality but patients who have been upset may well show gratitude for openness at follow-up. We have had a generation of being less than truthful with the obese. Perhaps instead of a "not your fault" approach we should have emphasised the risks of a number of cancers and diabetes. Obesity is not just a cosmetic issue but is a real threat to the health of the individual - and is costing the NHS billions of pounds.

Competing interests: No competing interests

31 March 2012
Rtd Physician
Braeside , Stowting , Nr Ashford KENT TN25 6BD