Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Who are you calling fat?

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2363 (Published 29 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2363

Rapid Response:

Re: Who are you calling fat?

Is 'fat' a medical term? No. Weight and obesity must be discussed with patients if it is relevant to their health. I can think of many examples where mentioning weight was avoided when it should have been addressed. We assess patients all the time by their weight whether prescribing a drug by weight, or by BMI (e.g combined contraceptive pill), or calculating whether they will fit on an operating table or in a MRI scanner. I have had a patient who, when cancelled for a procedure for exceeding the weight limit of the table, asked if the procedure could possibly be done on the floor of the operating theatre.
As a patient, I have been described as 'curvy'(BMI=27) by a surgeon (guessing his BMI=20). It did not feel inappropriate at the time but my partner thought it was.
Are we as doctors judgemental about our patients' weight? Often. But so are our patients. Will they take information and advice from overweight doctors?

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 April 2012
Clare Lipetz
Gynaecologist
Aneurin Bevan Health Board
Torfaen NP22 8YN