By Marie Kierans
- Official guidelines urge professionals to "minimise harm" by being aware of the stigma that overweight adults feel
Doctors should avoid blaming patients for being fat, official guidelines published yesterday say.
The tone used to discuss obesity should be “respectful” and “non-blaming” to “minimise harm”, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advised.
More than a quarter of adults are now classified as obese, with 41% or men and 33% of women overweight.
Professor Mike Kelly, of Nice, said: “Being overweight can also affect people’s mental health as a result of stigma and bullying.”
The guidance said professionals should “be aware of the effort needed to lose weight and avoid further weight gain and the stigma adults who are overweight or obese may feel or experience”.
It says: “Ensure the tone and content of all communications or dialogue is respectful and non-blaming.”
Stress should be put on the “importance of making gradual, long-term changes to their eating habits and physical activity and how much weight they might realistically expect to lose in total and on a weekly basis if they adhere to the programme”.
Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum added that patients were often in denial about their weight “because, in our society, obesity has become the norm”.
He adde: "They could say ‘I’m not obese, doctor. Look at all the people around me - I’m the same as them’."