In this week's Scrubbing Up, England's chief medical officer argues many people are still failing to deal with the realities of the obesity problem.
Sir Liam Donaldson said: "'obesity' has become the new 'cancer'. A word that is taboo, that intimidates, that strikes fear, that promotes softer euphemisms."
You have been sending in your comments on Scrubbing UP.
Being called 'fat' seems to have become the very worst insult you can say to a person (esp female). I would rather be called fat than stupid, at least you can lose weight! I think we have all become too sensitive to the obese word and fat, if someone is fat they are fat, pussyfooting around wont change it. Being obese isn't an insult, it is a factual, medical observation and should be treated as such. Alternatively there is so much pressure on females to be thin that every one is paranoid and thinks they are fat when they are a normal healthy weight! Being healthy is more important than being 'thin' or conforming to a narrow unrealistic ideal. Health is affected by being obese and people should not shy away from the word or the facts.
Far from being a taboo word, 'obesity' has become the new witch-hunt. Our self-absorbed society needs an identifiable group to vilify for sometimes good, sometimes very poor, reasons. At the moment we are obsessed with body-image and are forcing young girls into puberty-repressing thinness. I wonder how long it will be before the medical consequences of this fashion will lead to the victims being pilloried for following it.
Roger Steer, Bristol, UK
Do something practical instead of lecturing us all the time, that just makes people feel more miserable and so they eat more. For example, bring sports centres back into council control, offer prices for local authority gyms which are affordable and not only for those on benefits. Force supermarkets to discount fruit and veg. Do something positive, don't just keep stigmatising us.
Apart from a few special cases the vast majority of over-weight or FAT adults (and I am unconcerned about treading on eggshells here), have only themselves to blame. It comes down to sheer laziness. Laziness when it comes to taking adequate exercise, and laziness when it comes to eating a correct, healthy diet. However by far the biggest criminals of all are the selfish, irresponsible, ignorant parents who feed their children, high fat, high sugar, high salt diets; establishing poor eating habits early in their lives. Parents that have brought up their children in this way and caused them to become FAT should be prosecuted. Period!
Vincent Shaw-Morton, West Sussex
I don't view obesity as a taboo word. If it is a word that strikes fear into people or makes people feel bad then good, surely this will make them more likely to get off their obese backside and do something about it. People that eat themselves into obesity, in my opinion, should receive the same ridicule and NHS treatment as smokers (i.e. get pushed down the list to make more room for healthy people that take care of themselves).
I don't think obesity should by any stretch of the imagination be a 'taboo' word. I was a fat child, and at school I was bullied for it. Great. So what? I grew up and lost the weight because of it, and am now anything but obese.
Children are softened up so much now, that they don't do exercise at school, they can't compete in anything, and they end up fat and disgustingly unfit as a result. They should be told "You have to try harder, no, you will run that cross country/play football, because you are overweight and it's not healthy".
The sooner we stop tiptoeing around the issue and actually face up to the fact that some of us, and some our children are disgustingly fat and address the issue without worrying about offending people the better. Like I said, I was fat, I got over it, and am now fit and healthy, and shockingly unaffected by the bullying I got at school. The only way it did affect me was drive me to change myself. If I can, then they can.
Edward James, York
I think it is a shame to get too bogged down in arguments over semantics when the real problems of poor health are still very real. Thousands of children will grow up into adults who have never experienced a single day as a truly healthy person. This seems both sad and unnecessary and I think that it is clearly within our own power to do something about it. Perhaps this means not shying away from emotive language but using it as a tool to highlight the severity of the problem? This is, after all, not intended to punish people, but to help them to help themselves.
Rob, South Shields, UK
"Obesity"- schmobesity! The word is "Fat".
Rick Jones, Chester, UK
Considering they used to have a scale of overweight - fat - obese, then changed it to overweight - obese - morbidly obese, these parents have a point. When you hear the word 'obese', you think of the late Luciano Pavarotti, not of someone who is 'only' a couple of stone overweight.
Rich D, Sheffield, UK
The parents and medical professionals who didn't like the word "obese" are doing a disservice to parents and children. Treading carefully around issues to avoid upsetting those affected rarely works and it is blunt facts that are needed. This fear of kids being bullied and labelled at school is simply delaying a more tacit form of bullying in terms of stigmatism from employers, colleagues, friends and society in general, amply demonstrated by the medical professionals at the conference. It is far better in the long run to get children exercising and eating healthily with parents executing their responsibilities at the earliest age possible. Never has the adage "It's cruel to be kind" applied so much.
I have been to the GP for help. More than 1400 calories a day and I put on weight. It is difficult to stay within my BMI, but I do. I was given a sheet of low calorie meal recipes made by Weetabix. I react to wheat and dairy. Most of these recipes were exactly that. I said this, the nurse shrugged. Too bad. No wonder people are struggling.
Fat people can always find someone fatter than they are so they don't think they have a problem. They don't believe that any of the information or editorials written on the subject apply to them as quote 'everyone is bigger now so what's the problem with me being a little overweight' It's about personal responsibility.
I'm 64 and technically obese, but not because I live on a junk food diet. In fact what I eat is exactly what is recommended by the experts - high in fibre, low in fat, lots of fruit and veg. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are excellent. So why I am I obese? Because I eat too much of this healthy diet - a calorie is still a calorie, wherever it comes from - and I exercise too little. When you get to my age, most forms of exercise are rather embarrassing - and you care less about how you look.
Dave Parker, Bishop's Stortford, Herts
A nurse at my doctors said I was obese, according to my BMI. The problem is, I have hardly any fat, exercise regularly, eat well and am healthy. As long as the medical establishment continues to use the BMI as a benchmark, anyone who is heavier yet fit will fall into the obese bracket. Without a doubt though, a lot of people need more exercise, size and weight are not the issue, fitness is.
Lea Spencer, Weymouth
We have fat children because the mothers and fathers have never had lessons on good diets, nor have they learnt to cook and finally they spend all day working( thanks to Mr Browns tax initiatives) and are too tired at night to cook healthy food. Understandably it is so much easier to buy a fat, sugar and salt laden ready meal. If only both parents didn't have to work to pay the family bills. Pay one of the parents to stay at home instead of all these nursery handouts!
Elizabeth, Newport, Isle of Wight
I was twenty-one stone on 1st August 2007, I am fourteen and a half today, 17 December 2009. The answer is, cut out the carbs totally. No ifs buts or maybes. Animal protein and animal fat. Whole milk, hard cheese, eggs, butter, fish, beef, pork and lamb. Ignore Jamie and all his fellow travellers, as someone once said "God gave us food and Satan gave us cooks" No bread, rice, pasta, biscuits, rice, vegetables or fruit.
John Bennett, Kidderminster, England
At 73 I still remember being called Fatty or Fatso. My saving was after 8 weeks of square bashing, RAF food, two stone lighter and immaculate in dress uniform as a route liner Guard of Honour at the Queens coronation I have never looked back and have remained fit and proud ever since.
Brian Connell, Knutsford, Cheshire, UK