In recent years, there has been a push to change the way we talk about obesity. Some people argue that the term “obesity” is stigmatizing, and that we should instead say “people with obesity.”
There’s no doubt that the word “obesity” carries a lot of stigma. But it’s important to remember that stigma is not just about the words we use. It’s also about the way we think and feel about people who are overweight or obese.
Changing the terminology from “obesity” to “people with obesity” is not going to reduce stigma. In fact, it could actually make things worse.
When we use the term “people with obesity,” we’re suggesting that obesity is a medical condition that needs to be treated. This implies that people who are obese are somehow at fault for their condition. It’s blaming and shaming, and it’s not helpful.
What we need to do instead is focus on destigmatizing obesity. This means changing the way we think about obesity, and treating people who are obese with respect.
We can start by education ourselves and others about the causes of obesity. It’s important to understand that obesity is not a choice, and it’s not simply a result of overeating or laziness.
We also need to challenge the negative stereotypes that exist about obese people. We need to see them as individuals, not as a group.
And finally, we need to be more supportive of people who are struggling with their weight. This means creating an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their weight, without fear of judgement or discrimination.
If we can do these things, then we can start to reduce the stigma associated with obesity.
The rising prevalence of obesity has been met with calls to reduce stigma and promote inclusivity by changing the terminology used to describe people with obesity. It is argued that terms like “fat” and “obese” are loaded with negative connotations and that using more neutral language would help to reduce discrimination.
However, research suggests that changing the terminology may not be effective in reducing stigma. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who were exposed to the terms “overweight” and “obese” were more likely to have negative attitudes towards people with obesity, compared to those who were exposed to the terms “people with obesity” or “people of size”. The study concluded that “the use of euphemisms may inadvertently reinforce negative stereotypes about obesity”.
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that using more neutral terminology can actually perpetuate harmful stereotypes. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that participants who were exposed to the term “people with obesity” were more likely to endorse stigmatizing beliefs about obesity, such as the belief that people with obesity are lazy and have no self-control.
It is clear that more research is needed on the impact of language on attitudes towards obesity. However, the available evidence suggests that changing the terminology to “people with obesity” is unlikely to reduce stigma.