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Default Difference between fat and obese
by greeniz515 08-03-2010, 07:28 AM

from: http://www.thatsfit.com/2010/08/02/f...s-in-a-name%2F



Do fat and obese mean the same thing? Is one term worse than the other? The British Public Health minister certainly thinks so.

"If I look in the mirror and think I am obese, I think I am less worried than if I think I am fat," Anne Milton told the BBC. And Milton's certain that calling people fat will help them slim down. In fact, she's called for the f-word to replace the o-word as a sort of "tough love" scheme to wake people up to the dangers of extra weight.

Milton feels that when doctors are blunt with heavy patients about their weight, it will have more of an emotional impact than if doctors use medical terms like obesity. Having to deal with the cold, hard truth will then help encourage personal responsibility. "At the end of the day, you cannot do it for them," said Milton. "People have to have the information."

But Milton's suggestions have sparked an outcry among mental health experts. "Weight stigmatization is not an appropriate or effective way to motivate behavior change," said Rebecca Puhl, director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University. "If providers want to help their patients engage in healthier lifestyle behaviors, they need to provide support, not instill shame."

In fact, Puhl believes that not only would using the f-word not help with weight issues, it could actually have the opposite effect. "When obese individuals feel stigmatized because of their weight, they are vulnerable to numerous consequences that negatively affect their emotional and physical health," said Puhl. "Some of these consequences include engaging in maladaptive eating behaviors, avoidance of physical activity and avoidance of health care services because of negative stigmatizing experiences in the health care environment."

Dan Kirschenbaum, one of the founders of Wellspring, which provides treatment services to overweight young people, agrees with Puhl and points out that proper motivation isn't necessarily the issue when it comes to obesity. "Most obese people have plenty of motivation to change," he said. "They just do not know how to do it effectively. Adding to the abusive language used against overweight people would make the situation worse."

When it comes right down to it, is fat really worse than obese? Fat is a relative term: Sometimes even models are called fat. But obesity is a concrete concept that's measured with several different scientific methods. Then again, maybe fat will always rule the waistline insults. What do you think?

Whatever label you give it, excess weight can kill, and it's important for everyone -- whether they're overweight or obese, fat or thin -- to know if they're at risk. If you're concerned about your weight, start with our BMI calculator to help you determine if you're in a healthy range and then talk to your doctor.

Obesity doesn't have to be a life sentence.
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