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TOPIC: How/When, if ever to tell someone he/she is obese.

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October 4, 2012 6:33 AM
Discussions about the Wisconsin newscaster got me thinking about this. Most discussions of that story have focused on whether the guy who wrote her is a bully.

If the guy in Wisconsin was rude when, if ever, is it appropriate to tell someone he or she needs to lose weight? And how should the topic be brought up? Most of us have had our struggles and have, no doubt, gotten our share of unsoliicited advice. Last year, my mother gave me a hard tiime about gaining weight. Now, that strikes me as fair as I consider it a given that my mother has my best iinterests at heart. On the other hand, a guy I slightly know professionally said something sort of rude to me last spring. (and he hiimself is overweight so go figure) So, how and when to bring things up?

If I take as a given that close friends and (immediate) family are fair game as the relationships are clear, who else to discuss it with. Here are a couple of examples where I have thought about it but, so far, have thought better of bringing it up.

A guy I know who is a professional colleague, even shared office space with him for a year. And, I see him and his family from time to time at social occasions. When I first met him some 15 years ago, he was a normal weight, and even somewhat good looking. But, I would say that over the years, he has gained over 100 lbs, maybe 150 lbs and is now morbiidly obese. In a nutshell, this guy looks terrible. And, he has two young children so one would think that he at least owes it to them to take better care of himself. I don't think he has an illness. I have seen the guy eat (remember we shared office space), so I know why he is so biig. Having been through the exact same thing myself, I think I know what this guy's problem is, but do I dare bring iit up?

Second example. At my gym, there is a woman who works in membership who has gone from slightly overweight to obese in the last few years. IMO, the gym is one of the few jobs where I think the employees need to walk the walk and look at least somewhat fit. (maybe unfair but if I am thinking about joining a gym, want the employees to at least pretend they care about working out.) On the other hand, she is a total stranger to me so my inclination is to just keep my mouth shut.

Any thoughts?
Edited by martintanz On October 4, 2012 6:38 AM
  26556981
October 4, 2012 6:43 AM
I don't think you say anything. I have trouble believing most people aren't aware they've gained weight.

The only way I could see bringing it up is as a discussion about healthy habits. I wouldn't mention weight though unless they ask you for help.
October 4, 2012 6:47 AM
QUOTE:

I don't think you say anything. I have trouble believing most people aren't aware they've gained weight.

The only way I could see bringing it up is as a discussion about healthy habits. I wouldn't mention weight though unless they ask you for help.


When I was going through difficult times, I had a hard time asking anyone for help. I know what you are saying, most overweight people know they are overweight, but they may not realize how overweight. I recognize now my ability to delude myself is now making my task orders of magnitude harder than had I made a few changes 2 or 3 years ago.
  26556981
October 4, 2012 6:48 AM
I'd say something to my friends/family. I think it's out of line to call someone out if you are merely an acquiantence at best.
  22073289
October 4, 2012 6:50 AM
QUOTE:
when, if ever, is it appropriate to tell someone he or she needs to lose weight?


In your examples, you don't tell those people. Not your place.

I think if a parent of a child or a spouse who has concerns about the health implications of the weight gain, then it is okay to bring up the subject. I'd focus more on health than telling them they need to lose weight though.

Other than that, mind your bidness.
October 4, 2012 6:52 AM
Worry about yourself.
October 4, 2012 6:53 AM
I think one of the key things she said in her message was 'you don't know me'. If you don't know someone well enough to be devistated if they died from their unhealthy life style then it isn't your business

The only time ever that I spoke to my partner about his weight was last weekend when I noticed he stopped breathing in his sleep more often and would wake choking. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't have said a word. Hearing you are over weight whether said in a mean way or constructive or factual way still hurts.

Like the news anchor said if you are over weight you know, you don't need people to tell you
  28834057
October 4, 2012 6:55 AM
Probably right. Funny that 3 months in and I suddenly notice obese people all over the place that I hadn't notiiced before. As I said, I think that except for a few moments of clarity, I managed to avoid seeing myself as I actually was.
  26556981
October 4, 2012 6:56 AM
If you think that person doesn't know they're obese, you're oblivious imo. They know. They will deal with it when/if they are ready. Being pushed into it by a force outside themselves, either positive or negative, will not work and will only be upsetting. Change has to come from within. I find this true even for family members - say something only if you want to hurt their feelings, because even if you motivate them to try now until THEY want to make the change - truly want it - it won't work. We know this all the time from MFP, that it's a lifestyle change that has to happen, so it always makes me shake my head when people are like "How do I tell someone they're obese?" They know they're obese. What are you going to accomplish by saying something?
  25000768
October 4, 2012 6:57 AM
Total stranger or even occasional acquaintance? Don't say anything unless they ask.

Close friend, family or other that you care about? Say something because obesity is a serious health condition. If you knew they had some other serious medical issue you'd say something, wouldn't you?

But whoever it is, if you say something be as kind as possible. Focus on the health issues and not on appearance.
October 4, 2012 6:58 AM
The question I would ask is this:

Do you think the obese person is not aware that they are obese? I would think that the vast majority are well aware of it.
October 4, 2012 6:58 AM
If my husband came to me and told me I was overweight, I think I would die of shame and embarassment. I know it, he knows it, and I am doing something about it. But for him to point it out to me, as if this is something that will disappear by discussion?? No.

That being said, my mother is diabetic. She hardly takes her insulin, eats garbage, and is always sick/having issues. On top of that she is very heavy. My siblings and I addressed her healthy habits, not her weight, last year as we were concerned about her.

I can understand what the guy was thinking when he did it, but that doesnt mean he had the right nor the authority to do it. My weight is my struggle. I have had an eating disorder, been to treatment, and struggled with the binge cycle for YEARS. I know my weight is unhealthy; it is my head that is messed up the most. I dont need someone else's voice getting in there when I hear my own.
  27871318
October 4, 2012 6:59 AM
I don't think you should say anything to these people. I know your intentilons are good, but chances are, they ALREADY know they're overweight. By you telling them, what is that going to solve? People take action when they're ready to do so. No amount of coercing will EVER help
  21916824
October 4, 2012 7:00 AM
Everyone who is morbidly obese is aware of it. It's not your place to speak up or offer solutions. If a loved one has serious health issues, from any source, not just obesity, you might express concern for their health, but not their appearance. But only those very close to you. Would you start approaching anyone who smoked or drank too much and start preaching to them about their habits?
  29076468
October 4, 2012 7:00 AM
QUOTE:

If you think that person doesn't know they're obese, you're oblivious imo. They know. They will deal with it when/if they are ready. Being pushed into it by a force outside themselves, either positive or negative, will not work and will only be upsetting. Change has to come from within. I find this true even for family members - say something only if you want to hurt their feelings, because even if you motivate them to try now until THEY want to make the change - truly want it - it won't work. We know this all the time from MFP, that it's a lifestyle change that has to happen, so it always makes me shake my head when people are like "How do I tell someone they're obese?" They know they're obese. What are you going to accomplish by saying something?


I generally agree, except that in my case, I think I was deluding myself about my obesity for the last couple of years. Though I had gained over 60 lbs, in my mind, I was still the guy who lost 60 lbs 8 years ago, not the guy who gained it all back (and then some) over the last 4.
  26556981
October 4, 2012 7:00 AM
I don't believe it's anyones business but the person with the weight issue themselves.
Honestly, do you not think they KNOW they are overweight? They do. Re-iterating that to them, is not going to change the situation, or better their health.
October 4, 2012 7:01 AM
QUOTE:

The question I would ask is this:

Do you think the obese person is not aware that they are obese? I would think that the vast majority are well aware of it.


That. Basically, I know I'm f'n fat and if you were to say anything about it, I deck you right in the nose. Its not your place so butt out and worry about your own problems.
October 4, 2012 7:01 AM
I don't think it is okay to ever tell someone they are overweight or obese. I think they already know. Unless you are their doctor, I cannot imagine any scenario in which it would be okay for you to tell them they need to lose weight
Edited by deb3129 On October 4, 2012 7:02 AM
  25648546
October 4, 2012 7:03 AM
QUOTE:

Everyone who is morbidly obese is aware of it. It's not your place to speak up or offer solutions. If a loved one has serious health issues, from any source, not just obesity, you might express concern for their health, but not their appearance. But only those very close to you. Would you start approaching anyone who smoked or drank too much and start preaching to them about their habits?


OK, point taken. I do express concern for my brother's cigar habit, but so far, he has not changed his habits one bit. He and I have very frank discussions about diet and weight as he also uses MFP to watch his food intake.
  26556981
October 4, 2012 7:03 AM
MHO:

It's *always* appropriate to speak gently to your close loved ones. I am so glad that hubby nudged me. He was always very sweet about it, very loving. Now I am gently reminding him that he needs to start exercising regularly.

ETA: It is never appropriate to say things to strangers/co-workers/neighbors etc.
Edited by WendyTerry420 On October 4, 2012 7:03 AM
  25631519
October 4, 2012 7:03 AM
I'm not anybody's doctor. It's not my place. Plus, they already know...
October 4, 2012 7:04 AM
Im pretty sure if they are obese then they know it's time to lose weight. If you have a relationship with this person just bring it up as casual conversation and see how they respond to a question or two then move forward according to the response.
  26666293
October 4, 2012 7:05 AM
People know when they are obese it's not rocket science. When you have to go to special stores to buy clothes, or when you can't walk a few steps without pain. When you sweat and your heart rate goes up getting in and out the car. Trust me we know that we are big, fat obese whatever you call it.
October 4, 2012 7:05 AM
When, if ever, is it appropriate to tell someone he or she needs to color their hair? How do you talk about the gray?

It sounds silly, but to me weight is the same. It's a personal choice. If they want to talk about losing weight or their plans, then great, offer insight, tips, and ideas. Never assume that because YOU think they need to lose weight that THEY have or should have any plans to do so.
October 4, 2012 7:05 AM
This is why the phrase "mind your own beeswax" was intented. Family, close, very close friends maybe but someone you see at a counter at the gym or next to you at work, never! Just because you are doing something to better yourself now, no way!

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