Obesity is a major health problem here in the UK, and one that has taken over many conversations – whether that be in hospitals, on the news, in schools or at work.
Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of several common diseases, and considering that 28.0% of adults in England are obese and a further 36.2% are overweight, it’s no surprise that the topic is never too far from anyone’s mind.
Talking about obesity is fine if you keep in mind the below tips…
Don’t underestimate the power of the language you use
Regardless of who you’re discussing the matter with, be mindful not to use words that are stigmatising or negative. Sure, you might be talking to someone who’s visibly slim, but you don’t know what they’ve dealt with in the past, or if they have a close relationship with someone who is obese or overweight.
Educate yourself before getting too deep into conversations
If you get caught in a conversation about obesity, give yourself a moment to separate what you think you know from what you definitely know. It’s okay to take a step back and say: “I’m not entirely sure on that one, so I’ll stay out of this.” Not everything needs a response.
Understand it’s not helpful to blame anyone
While popular culture might have you think otherwise, there are many factors that increase a person’s risk of obesity – and not all of them are within their control. Yes, it’s so much more complex than just ‘eat less and move more’. When talking about obesity, understand it’s not helpful (or even factually correct) to blame anyone.
Speak up for those who may feel uncomfortable doing so
In life, it’s fundamental that we all stick together and look out for one another. So, if you hear someone speaking out of turn when the topic of obesity is bought up, don’t be afraid to ‘put them in their place’, so to speak. There’s no need to be horrible or aggressive, just explain that some of the words they’re using are insensitive, or that they’d benefit from learning more about the situation.
If you or somebody you know is obese or overweight, and looking to change this in a healthy and sustainable way, keep an eye out for the options that you have available. For example, if you’re looking at how to lose weight without exercise, your local pharmacy might be able to advise on products.