To use “Obesity” or not?


March 2, 2016 by Nadia E. Browne

The language we use is very powerful; it can evoke strong emotions and have long lasting effects on others. In the clinical environment, this is a particularly important issue as patients seek out the expertise of health professionals for very personal and sensitive issues, such as weight management. While widely used without a bad intention, the word “obesity” carries a lot of baggage, which, in the context of childhood weight issues, stigmatizes both parents and children. Research has shown that parents of obese children prefer to have their children described as “unhealthy” than obese. The principal investigator for the RMI-Family, Dr. Geoff Ball, along with colleagues at the University of Alberta conducted an integrative review (2012), which highlighted that families preferred the use of more sensitive language from health professionals.

The RMI-Family is a structured interview that will be administered using the principles of motivational interviewing. We believe that the RMI-Family will play an important role in pediatric weight management in the future as we develop this tool to clinically assess the readiness and motivation of families to change lifestyle behaviors, which will result in tailored treatments. Our team is mindful that the words used in material provided to participating families can affect recruitment and study outcomes as well as morale. As such, our team strongly believes in using non-judgmental language and will strive to make families feel as comfortable as possible in our research and clinical environment.

Consistent with this approach, our team is conducting a brief survey which focuses on the use of the word obesity in branded materials with families, such as appointment cards and information booklets for accelerometers. Specifically, the short survey is meant to get your perspective on the most appropriate study title, as you get one chance to make a good first impression. This survey will remain open until 23:45 p.m. on March 18, 2016. Thank you for your participation.

Vote now by clicking “Take Our Survey”.

Take Our Survey!

2 thoughts on “To use “Obesity” or not?

  1. […] reviewing the survey results for “To use ‘Obesity’ or not”, it was evident that a high percentage of respondents agreed that the word “obesity” should be […]


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