Is it OK for doctors and parents to tell children and teens they're fat?

According to the Seattle Times, there is a big debate going on within the medical community about how to describe children with excess weight.

Experts debate whether children should be called obese
The Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Is it OK for doctors and parents to tell children and teens they're fat?

That seems to be at the heart of a debate over whether to replace the fuzzy language favored by the U.S. government with the painful truth: telling kids if they're obese or overweight.

Labeling a child obese might "run the risk of making them angry, making the family angry," but it addresses a serious issue head-on, said Dr. Reginald Washington, a Denver pediatrician and co-chairman of an American Academy of Pediatrics obesity task force.

"If that same person came into your office and had cancer, or was anemic, or had an ear infection, would we be having the same conversation? There are a thousand reasons why this obesity epidemic is so out of control, and one of them is no one wants to talk about it."

Do most overweight children not know they are overweight? By the time they are 10 they should probably already know. If having a medical diagnosis of "Obese" is really going to traumatize them that much, then perhaps there are other issues that child should be dealing with.

The diplomatic approach adopted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and used by many doctors avoids the word "obese" because of the stigma. The CDC also calls overweight kids "at risk of overweight."

Perhaps a thicker skin is more important here than a thinner belly. It will serve them well in years to come.


Moby Dick said...

Fat kids are sick and they need help. Growing up obese is like a death sentence. Obesity needs to be treated like a serious illness.

Jon Clarke said...

Isn't telling kids they're fat the job of the school bully?

Brian Kunath said...

Perhaps doctors can hire school bullies to deliver the news during the checkup.

Doc: "What I have to say next is important, Timmy, and requires a certain clarity that I am not allowed to excerise. With that in mind, let me bring in Walter."

Walter: "Fatty fat, fatty fat, fat, fat, fat!

Doc: "Thanks you Walter, that will be all."

Walter: "If I may make a final diagnostic obervation, doctor?"

Doc: "Proceed."

Walter: "Fat, fat! Fatty, fatty, fat!"