Should we stop calling people 'overwieght'?

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Thelistmaker, May 30, 2012.

  1. Thelistmaker

    Thelistmaker bats!

    There's been a lot of debate in the UK recently (see the bbc article bellow) about whether to use weight-neutral language because terms like 'overweight' and 'obese' might lower self esteem.

    I find it incredibly interesting because the issue brings to light some of my own prejudices.

    on the one hand: my instinctive ration to obese people is that their weight is probably a product of laziness or unhealthy choices /quick fixes. This is mainly because I was a chubby and extremely unathletic kid with a massive sweet tooth, so if I can stay in decent shape, why, I ask myself, should I have sympathy for those who can't and dance around their feelings by not suing useful medical terms?

    Sometimes it's hard not to see excessive weight as a product of bad character traits, such as refusal to plan long term or lack of self discipline.

    But on the other hand, It is their lives. In reality, why is laziness or lack of self discipline such a moral bad and not just a character quirk? (Although I do think those who choose to be obese should pay extra tax in some way to off set the cost of treating them on the NHS).

    But then again: I understand that there are some obese people who are affected by medical conditions that mean they cannot take exercise or have to stick to certain diets. I have a lot more sympathy for these people, because their struggle with weight would be a lot harder than a normal person's.
  2. Microlamia

    Microlamia Banned Banned

    How 'overweight' are we talking about?

    I'm not a fan of the current fad of body policing. If someone is healthy, and simply doesn't fit the ideal someone drew up somewhere on an ideal weight chart, then no, even if they are heavier than average. I know fat people who run marathons. That's more than twice what my whiplash-lean ass could manage.

    If we're talking cases like the English girl who weighed 380 kgs (no, I am not making this up... then yes, I think we can safely use those words.
  3. Rand86

    Rand86 likes to butt heads

    So holdonjustasec... overweight is an insult now?

    Puhleeze. :rolleyes:
  4. Microlamia

    Microlamia Banned Banned

    I'm not sure it's about being insulting. The over- part IMO implies that someone's body is not acceptable.

    If someone is healthy and functional, then IMO, telling them their body is over a limit or unacceptable is uncalled for and inappropriate.
  5. Thelistmaker

    Thelistmaker bats!

    The original debates have been about both categories of 'overweight' (having a BMI of 25.0 to 29.9) and obese (BMI of 30 or higher). However, I think the idea of what society considers the ideal body image is a different issue.
    The debates are about whether to tell people that they appear unhealthy on a standardized test.
    It's very true that the category of 'overweight' can sometimes be a grey area when it comes to having a healthy weight. It's based on averages, so any physician worth their salt will admit there will be exceptions. However, once a person reaches the 'obese' category it's very very likely that they are unhealthy, so I think it makes sense to generalize at this point.
  6. Thelistmaker

    Thelistmaker bats!

    I think this is more about making the public aware of how body mass indexes and such work. I think once people are sufficiently educated about the matter they will understand that it's meant to be a health indicator for whats healthy for the majority and understand that there are exceptions.

    I myself am classed as 'overweight' by BMI standards, but I am educated enough to know this does not necessarily mean i need to lose weight to become more healthy, as I have a larger amount of muscle than the average woman of my size.
  7. Thelistmaker

    Thelistmaker bats!

    Another thought:
    I think even if we did away with the terms 'overweight' and 'obese' in medical contexts relating to BMI and invented something else, the new terms would soon gain the same cultural connotations, as the new terns would be explained in terms of 'overweight' and 'obese' - thus linking them heavily in people's minds.
  8. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    the thing about body mass indexes is that they DON'T work. the health issue with weight is entirely about body composition and its effect on one's physiological processes. BMI determines neither of those things, literally only taking into account height (a one-dimensional measurement of distance) and weight (a force measurement).

    BMI aside, i agree that the notion of "over/under"-weight people is rather arbitrary, objectively speaking (ish), but then again, humans are silly and like to categorize things. still, the distinction between the body types makes sense, even when the terms used to describe them, and the meanings inferred from them, aren't. i myself generally admit to being "overweight", since i have been chubby my entire life, and am currently maintaining it on purpose due to my weightlifting (2 liters of full fat milk per day + above average amounts of solid food will do that to one). it's a simple fact: i carry a good amount of fat on my body, while not being obese.
  9. Rand86

    Rand86 likes to butt heads

    You know, everything else aside it boggles the mind that people are assigning negative connotations to what is in and of itself a neutral term already.

    I mean, if the worst a person is ever called is "overweight" they're not doing too bad.
  10. Microlamia

    Microlamia Banned Banned

    BMI is silly, IMO. Body fat would probably be a much better measure.
  11. Thelistmaker

    Thelistmaker bats!

    I admit I don't have enough medical knowledge to say what would be the most useful, but I think we also have to factor in cost of calculation. I'm not sure, but if BMI if cheaper and easier to calculate, it still has it's uses.
  12. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    BMI is garbage. Here's an example. The U.S. Marine Corps goes by a BMI and you have to meet a weight/height standard along with passing a physical fitness test (PFT). If you don't pass the BMI (if you're 6' you can weigh no more then 204 lbs) then you get put into a program to "lose weight." You can score a perfect on the PFT, be able to out run, out class, and out do everyone. You can have 0% body fat. It doesn't matter. You're going on the "fat body" program.

    And their reasoning isn't because you may need to carry somebody out of combat or some ridiculous thing (I mean, you have to weigh a certain amount but we're going to load you down with about 150 lbs of gear). It's about following protocol. And it's ridiculous.

    Anyone with a lick of knowledge that understands body composition know that the detrimental health effects of being overweight or obese are very strongly related to the percentage of body fat vs. lean body mass (muscles, organs, connective tissue). Fat is not bad, you actually have to have a certain amount of it (4-5% men, 10-13% women I believe) for normal reproductive functions and general health, but when you have an excess it becomes a problem.

    The BMI is a general scale of "the norm." Too bad a large percentage of people would never fit in "the norm" anyways, even if they were perfectly healthy. I am baffled that BMI is a standard used to measure people by organization in which physical ability is a factor, or by any sort of medical staff in order to measure health/fitness.

    I also don't agree that obese people shouldn't be told they are obese. Too bad for your self-esteem. Would you rather they lack the understanding that obesity has a major effect on health just so they feel good about themselves? I don't think their self-esteem is going to matter when they are having a heart attack, or diabetes, or being told they need a bypass surgery.
  13. Axelator

    Axelator Not called Alex.

    As long as we can call them 'fatties' instead. I've always prefered that to overweight anyway.
  14. Axelator

    Axelator Not called Alex.

    If anything I'd say fatty is better. It categorises based on BF instead of weight.
  15. Devil Hanzo

    Devil Hanzo Doesn't tap to heel-hooks

    I say we encourage people to become fat. The fatter the better. What would you rather face in the zombie apocalypse: fast athletic zombies or slow fat zombies?

    I rest my case.
  16. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    What the heck are you doing telling me anything about my body? Do you randomly go around telling strangers they're overweight or obese? Me either. What I think we should do is tell people to stop relying on what others say and thik, and start thinking for themselves. However, thinking for themselves is usually too much effort for your everyday Joe, so we are stuck trying to think for them

    Excessive political correctness and worry about other people's "self esteem" simply creates people who want others to worry about them and take care of them rather than taking responsibility for that upon themselves. I weigh more than the standardized charts say I should, but I'm pretty much OK with that. I try to keep my weight from increasing because I don't want to buy new clothes. I really don't care in the least if someone else thinks I'm overweight, obese, or just plain ugly. Not my problem and doesn't affect my "self esteem" in the slightest. :)

    That's my opinion on it anyway.
  17. Axelator

    Axelator Not called Alex.

    If you're fat, then you're not as healthy as you could potentially be.

    In the U.S. that's fine. In the U.K. we have nationalised healthcare, fat people cost the NHS billions each year. You have a social responsibility to not be fat.
  18. stephenk

    stephenk Valued Member

    This is related to the idea of the euphemistic treadmill. It's the same reason 'idiot' is now an insult instead of a medical definition, this was then replaced with 'retarded' which was a medical term again and now an insult. Then 'special needs' and so on. This will always happen as a neutral word replaces the now taboo word people will begin to use the neutral on as an insult. It then gains wider usage as an insult than as a neutral 'scientific' diagnosis and becomes taboo as it's replaced again.

    (The answer for these sorts of things is to stop using medical conditions as insults. But, that's never going to happen.)

    However, that's a bit of a digression because, for the vast majority of people, obesity is caused by bad decisions. Now granted, it much more complicated than too many candy bars. Particularly for low socioeconomic demographics. (Lean meat and fresh veg are expensive and inconvenient calories compared to McDonalds, which is probably some of the least costly in terms of calories/£. Not to mention that time can be scarce in a two income household.)

    However, I think we place way too much emphasis on self-esteem. Frankly, most people should have less of it. Self-esteem used to be earned by doing things well; now it's seen as some sort of birthright. As I now pay UK taxes and the UK has nationalized medicine - I feel I have right to tell people to take care of themselves. (This is, for example, why I support a smoking ban in the UK but not the US.

    The fact is that obesity and the related health issues are now truly an epidemic. At he same time there are many movements to accept it, saying things like 'everyone's a beautiful special snowflake'. I do not support this sort of thought that everyone should feel good about everything.

    This doesn't just apply to weight either, it's now taken as given that criticizing people's choices in any way for anything is taboo, whether in eating, education, beliefs, etc... I think in some cases a little old-school societal shaming is in order. It's really for the best for all of us, me included. It's easier for me to make some o the hard choices when I know that my friends and family will be disappointed in me if do certain things.

    We're social animals after all and up until recently this sort of USA o us keeping all of us in line has done some good things. Probably some bad too in cases, but no need to throw the baby out with the bath water.
  19. stephenk

    stephenk Valued Member

    Pardon the typos I'm on my iPhone and I can't scroll to fix them and the bad autocorrects.
  20. Haakon

    Haakon Valued Member

    I resent being called overweight. I'm not overweight, I'm under-tall damnit!

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