Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Who are you calling fat?

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 29 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2363
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}

As England’s adults and children are plumping up (doi:10.1136/bmj.e2332) doctors are tying themselves up in knots over the right words to use with their podgy patients. It’s a minefield out there. On a ward round Ian Seetho wondered aloud whether a patient was too heavy for the hospital’s CT table—only to see his patient’s demeanour rapidly deteriorate (doi:10.1136/bmj.e1370). Apparently, studies show that patients prefer terms like “body mass index” and “excess weight” to “fat,” “obese,” and “extremely obese.” Seetho’s bottom line: “When describing a diagnosis or talking to patients, it is important to be ever so mindful of our choice of words in relation to how …

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