Page last updated at 21:01 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Scrubbing Up: Your comments

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 and that promotes softer euphemisms."

You have been sending in your comments on Scrubbing Up.


In some ways, I feel like I've been living a dream. When I was going to elementary school in the 80s, overweight and obese children were rare. Nowadays, overweight and obese children are common or the majority in certain areas and schools. I was shocked when my state, Utah, was considered one of the most obese in the US, because it had often been hailed as a model state where cancer and heart disease rates were low and a long, healthy life seemed a given. How quickly things changed in less than a generation! Still skinny as I approach 30, it is a bit shocking to realise I'm no longer one of the majority but a new kind of minority.
Miguel S, Utah, USA

As an obese person, I'm getting pretty sick of being blamed for all the world's evils. I do think that people should strive to be as healthy as possible and that's why I work out several times a week and try to generally eat healthy. These sort of statements like: "For society, there are also major implications in greater health service demand" make it seem like obese people are just calling in sick because they are too fat to get out of bed, so they just roll over and stuff their faces with a bag of jujubes. I personally am almost never sick and rarely miss work so I can't stand it that my obesity gets equated with laziness, sickness and a general leaching off of our medical system.
Saffron Wallace, British Columbia, Canada

First of all, it is not always obesity that is the problem, but the increased health risks it implies that should remain the main concern. People should use the word 'obesity' in doctor's offices, but its use in everyday life is somewhat dubious, as occasionally it is not possible to ascertain the weight of an individual just by looking at them. Of course this will stigmatise people, but the harsh reality is that people use the pain of stigmas to fuel their own change. I was an overweight child, and I was bullied. But I was not bullied because of the word 'obese' or 'overweight', I was bullied because I was different. Removing the word 'obesity' will do nothing.
Aviva D, Newtown, Pennsylvania, USA

I went back to the UK for a holiday this year and was thrilled at all the roly-poly customers in Tesco. For the first time in a very long time I felt positively slim. I then came home, visited my gym and tragically realised I'm still 8kgs overweight! No longer smug!
Anita, Germany

With so many hours spent at a desk, in front of a PC, in a car or (dare I say it) on the sofa, is it any wonder we are getting progressively more overweight? Exercising is seen as the privilege of those people with time and money to join a club. Nobody chooses to ride their bike in the rain when they can drive their car. The truth is that we are kidding ourselves.
Alistair, Toronto, Canada

While I don't disagree with the dangers of an increasingly obese society, there is a danger that such extreme words are being used unreasonably. In Canada it has been commonplace to use the word obese when overweight is more appropriate. Last year a headline in our largest circulation newspaper screamed: "A third of Canadians are Obese." (They later apologised and clarified it.) It is a similar situation to the overuse of the word 'gridlock' which is applied to everyday traffic congestion. I'm not sure anyone knows the real meaning of the word.
David , Mississauga, Canada

I think one of the big issues around this problem is that the parents of obese children are often also obese themselves, or they are in complete denial about their child's weight issue. How often do parents excuse it as 'baby fat' well beyond the baby years? Also eating healthy, home cooked food, exercising as a family, and stimulating children with activities that require activity seem to be out of fashion. Living in the US I am disgusted by the store bought, canned, boxed, fast food, microwave meals, etc. that have become the norm in many families these days. Parents claim they are too busy to cook a proper meal for their children. Since when did eating healthy and providing a home-cooked meal become an extraneous part of parenting? Maybe if people shut off their TVs, took away the cell phones, video games, computers, and so forth, and sat together as a family, more kids and adults would be healthier and fitter.
Katherine, New York, USA

Obese is not too strong a word. It is the accurate, appropriate word. Going with a softer label is like claiming someone is 'big-boned', it avoids the real issue. Progress cannot be made until people face the truth and accept responsibility for their actions. Instead it is easier to blame genes, culture, or the media.
Maria, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

By the 1960s the cost of processed and junk food in the US became cheaper than home cooked meals. With both parents working, people started going to fast food, drive through restaurants. Kids loved the junk food as they grew up on it. Many people have no idea how to make a meal from scratch - food banks ask for easy open cans, so their clients only have to heat up the food they receive. Obesity is the main reason for the high cost of healthcare in the US. Despite all the attempts to help people lose weight, so many are addicted to their lifestyle that they seem to be unable to overcome their food temptations.
Margie, Sequim, USA

The problem is not that people are not realising that they are obese. The problem is that there has yet to be anything proven to have a long-term affect on obesity other than bariatric surgery. Drugs that offer a 10% weight loss over six months are not solving an obesity problem. A 10% loss may improve an obese person's health, but many will still be obese. Low carb, high carb, low fat, Mediterranean, behavioural based, etc. None of these have been proven to lead to long-term sustained weight loss. The answer may involve surgical intervention sooner rather than later.
Karla, New York, USA

I'm fat, probably about 20-25 kg over. I'm 26 and I know that if I don't work on this now, I'm looking at a major issues later in life, other problems such as back/knee issues etc, keep me from traditional exercises such as running, lifting weights etc. But I'm working on my diet. Fat people are in denial, it is not ok to be fat, there are serious health concerns. This is just like smoking/drinking/drugs or any other vice, if you don't want to work out those issues or don't care about them, just prepare to lead a shorter life than you potentially could. This whole genetic obesity thing is not true. You put on that weight, You can get it off.
Raghav, USA

Obesity here in México is a serious issue, we're the fattest country in the world. Obesity shouldn't be taboo. I'm glad the British people are taking action on this.
Francisco Madrigal, Monterrey, Mexico

Obesity is a serious problem; ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away. Diet and exercise is an effective and tested cure for this problem.
Michael Pierce, Lexington, USA

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