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Pay attention to language

Learn about utilising people first language

Overweight and obesity is highly visible amongst the media and conversations of the general public. There are still many misconceptions about the disease and blaming of people who are overweight. The language used with respect to overweight and obesity often perpetuates and reinforces these and contributes to weight stigma.

People-First Language. People are not defined by their weight.

It is essential that clinicians use compassionate, people first language.

  • Put people first – ‘people with or affected by overweight and obesity’ not ‘overweight or obese people’
  • Emphasise the complexity of obesity, and that overweight and obesity is recognised by medical practitioners and the World Health Organization as a chronic medical condition
  • Keep the language objective and challenge patients if they use judgemental terms about themselves such as ‘I’ve been bad’ or ‘lazy’.

The following 1 minute video has been developed by Obesity Canada for the general public to promote people-first language

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

The following short opinion piece by Prof Puhl at the University of Connecticut summarises the importance of people first language in obesity. Kyle and Puhl 2014. Putting people first in obesity. (Obesity, 225, 1211.)

This article is from the free online

EduWeight: Weight Management for Adult Patients with Chronic Disease

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