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You are fat

Diplomacy won’t help them. Studies say being honest is the best approach.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 16, 2010 01:27 IST
Hindustan Times

You’re fat. Imagine your doctor hurling the word ‘fat’ at you instead of addressing you as an obese. That’s what UK’s Health Minister Anne Milton has advised the health officials and doctors to do, when they’re dealing with overweight people.

According to Milton, such ‘plain speak’ will have more impact and hence, improve patients’ health.

We don’t agree
However, closer home, when HT City spoke to a panel of doctors across different lifestyle disorders, the point that we were able to drive home might not go down well with Milton’s wishlist. Countering the health minister’s take on such a sensitive issue, psychologist Dr Jitendra Nagpal said, “Using rude word will only prove discriminatory and further stigmatise the patient rather than having a positive impact.”

Scientifically certified terms are far more convincing than beating around the bush, insists Dr Nagpal. Likewise, Dr Ekta Nigam, a dermatologist at Apollo Hospital in Gurgaon says, “I can’t tell my patient that your skin looks horrible because you slap layers of makeup.”

They’re not the only ones who find ‘being rude’ not the right approach. Interven-tional Cardiologist at Escorts hospital, Dr Atul Mathur says, “It’s the choice of words that impacts the patient.” “You can’t tell a cancer patient upfront that you’re dying. Just tell you’re chronically ill”, says Dr Shivani Khanna Singh, a lifestyle management expert at Artemis Health Institute.

Politically correct
Special children: If a child is mentally or physically-challenged, refer to them as special children and not ‘mad’ and ‘handicapped’.
Obese: Calling people fat is an insult. It will demoralise them. Health experts in the Capital believe in putting just the right amount of pressure and address them as overweight or obese.
Feeling low: Do not ever tell a person that he/she is depressed. Just talk to them like a friend and tell them that they must be feeling quite low and so need help.
Chronically ill: This must be used for cancer patients. They’re very sensitive and will give up fight, if you tell them you’re dying in a few months.

First Published: Aug 15, 2010 17:06 IST