Why doctors aren't allowed to tell patients they're 'obese'

Doctors are being told not to tell patients that they are “obese” in new guidelines sent out by the NSW Health policy.

Rather than applying some tough love, the guidelines instruct doctors to use “positive” language when discussing the weight of their patients.

As well as talking in a “non-judgemental manner”, doctors are being told to scrap words like “skinny”, “malnourished” and “morbidly obese” and instead use terms like “well above a healthy weight”.

NSW Health’s Executive Director Centre for Population Health Jo Mitchell told News Corp that such terms can be “stigmatising” for overweight adults and children.

Doctors are being told not to use the words "obese" or "obesity" at risk of offending their patients. Source: Getty

She insisted that the new guidelines weren’t downplaying the inherent health risks associated with obesity, but rather creating a language “which is more engaging”.

Australia’s Medical Association state president Bran Frankum said the new guidelines were “patronising” and added that there’s no one blanket solution on how doctors should talk to their patients.

“Sometimes it is important not to sugar-coat this… the word obese is a medical term,” Mr Frankum said..

“People sometimes need to be made really aware of the dangers they are facing."

Dr Frankum said patients need to be confronted about their weight in order to spark change, especially in cases where parents are neglecting their child’s weight.

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