Being Truthful with Children About Weight – Will It Help?

Childhood Obesity and Weight LossWill labeling overweight children as obese send a more clear message about the importance of healthy habits among adolescents? This is a notion that some experts have proposed. The thought is that by avoiding the term “obesity” when talking about our children, adults are actually sugar coating an incredibly complicated and potentially hazardous health condition.

American Medical Association Changing the Language Around Childhood Obesity

A committee of medical experts recommended doctors should quit using non-specific terms to refer to children when they have weight problems. They should be referred to as obese or overweight in order to make the problem more clear to both kids and parents and to promote healthy weight loss.

The committee was brought together by the American Medical Association (AMA) and was funded by federal health officials that included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the same organization who recently came out and asserted that obesity is in fact a disease, and as a disease it is something that requires ongoing medical treatment and support. The American Medical Association has helped to shift the way that people perceive obesity, which is a growing problem in our communities.

Currently, approximately one-third of Americans are obese. As childhood obesity rates continue to rise, the percentage of Americans who struggle with their weight is also expected to increase. Children who struggle with excess weight during adolescence are at a much higher chance of being obese as adults.

The recommendation to start using the word “obese” around children is not a license for insensitivity though.  A spokesman for the committee commented that many physicians avoided using the medical term “obesity” for fear of labeling children and affecting their self esteem. However, this same fear may be preventing doctors from counseling patients who are clearly in need of weight loss.

A survey on the MSNBC.com Website asks “should doctors use blunt terms like “obese” to describe kids’ weight problems?” Out of 11,112 responses, an overwhelming 86% agree that doctors should use these terms in front of children — and to children and families — to help make the point that obesity is a serious problem. While this is not a scientific survey, public opinion appears to support truthfulness and honesty when addressing children and weight.

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