Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Who are you calling fat?

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 29 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2363

Rapid Response:

Re: Who are you calling fat?

I agree with Dr. Seetho that words should be carefully chosen. I am fat myself and comfortable with the word "fat", but I'm not sure those of average weight can understand the amount of opprobrium directed at fat people -- perhaps best understood by the inordinate approval expressed when someone loses weight (a friend who has lost a lot of weight says she has never gotten so much approval in her life for ANY accomplishment from so MANY quarters and is rather disconcerted).

If someone is having a medical problem and is probably anxious anyway, why risk increasing their distress even if plain speaking is normally preferable?

Although I am comfortable enough with myself that vocabulary doesn't trouble me, I do recall being miserable and depressed for several days when an ultrasound technician without any words so clearly indicated her disgust and repulsion with my body -- that was a BAD experience!!! Many bodies, especially those of the elderly, are not beautiful, but thank goodness most medical folk can deal with that reality reasonably well.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 March 2012
Anne Peticolas
software developer
Austin, Texas