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

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October 4, 2012 7:30 AM
A fat/obese person already knows there's an issue with weight. They'll have to get to a point where the excuses about working out no longer make sense to them. Then they'll shoe some determination and change.

Lets face it. It's basically a personal decision.
October 4, 2012 7:30 AM
You don't every need to tell someone they're overweight, I think, except a parent of an underage child where the parent is responsible for their health.

People know they are overweight.

On the other hand, I think if a person is complaining about their health and talking about their health, talking about weight or eating habits as a contributor to it makes a lot of sense and is, I think, appropriate. Especially if you frame it as a question so it throws it back to them to think about and open or close the conversation about.

It's tough. My brother-in-law, in particular, is morbidly obese and its causing him serious health problems. I'm really scared he's killing himself with his teeth. And he knows that, so my telling him that won't help. But in the context of talking about his bad back and painful shoulder and horrible knees - all weight related - I can ask him if his doctor has any ideas about how he might lose weight, talk about what has helped me, and talk about other options that might work for him.
Edited by nxd10 On October 4, 2012 7:31 AM
October 4, 2012 7:30 AM
It's appropriate when you are someone close to her who does it with love and concern (this is still touchy).

It's okay if you are her doctor.

It's okay if she asks.

Other than that, no. Like the newscaster said, it wasn't any new information to her. She knows she's overweight, even obese. It's not like you are giving the person information she doesn't already know. How many people, really, would her "you're fat/overweight/obese (etc)" and react sincerely with "wow, I didn't realize that, thank you so much for enlightening me"
October 4, 2012 7:31 AM
This is one of the many negatives of being obese. Everyone thinks your body is their business. And people you barely know can say whatever they please about it as long as they throw in some line about "being concerned for your health."

That's what struck me most about the incident with the reporter. Some stranger who wasn't even a regular viewer of her show thought he was so damn important that he could and should have a say in how much she weighed. He thought he should be the motivating factor for her weight loss. Don't do it for your husband or your three daughters. Do it because some random person emailed you. Sure.

You say your coworker owes it to his family to lose weight. That's between him and his family. You say the lady at the gym can't do her job properly. That's between her and her employer. Hopefully, you'll see that you don't fit into these people's lives in any significant way and that this is not your place.
October 4, 2012 7:32 AM
The only three people I spoke to about them being obese were family members, and I didn't call them fat or obese. I simply said I was worried about their health. The hardest was my youngest brother. He still tells himself he is just a little overweight. I told him simply he needed to get a check up as he has two little girls and it is obvious that he is not the man he once was. He knows I love him. He knows it is genuine concern, but I don't call anyone out except myself. They know they are obese. I know, no one had to tell me.
October 4, 2012 7:32 AM
In my opinion it is never, ever okay for a person (regardless of personal relationship) to tell another that they are obese, with the exception being that person's doctors. Every single obese person can see and feel that they are obese, they do not need you to tell them they are. Telling them they are obese is highly unlikely to cause them to start eating better and exercising, they have to reach that point themselves. In fact, up until a few months ago, if someone said something about my weight, it set me back months, it didn't push me further in the right direction.
Not only is it not ever someone else's place (again with the exception of doctors) to tell you when you're obese, it's none of their business any way.
October 4, 2012 7:32 AM
No one has the "right" to tell another person that they are overweight, unless it directly affects their job performance (ex: military, police, firefighter, EMT/paramedic).
Got a feeling the person you are referring to already knows. They may be going through some "stuff" that is either depressing themselves, or it could be medically related.
Either way best policy is MYOB, just do you!
October 4, 2012 7:33 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.

^ I posted something on my wall about this, after I posted this here. It turns out that in at least some cases, I'm wrong about the above.

I'm still not sure where I stand on the "should you tell them" and "in what context", but as it seems per my wall conversation, there are a number of people who either were told, or wish they were told, and found it beneficial.

Just additional food for thought.

My new theory is that the ones who believe that *all* obese people are aware of their predicament are people that noticed it themselves, perhaps even stressed over it. Those of us who didn't realize it were ones who used to be healthy and have self-confidence and high self-esteem, so avoiding mirrors is all it took to remain oblivious to our condition.
October 4, 2012 7:33 AM
How do they not know already?
Edited by jillica On October 4, 2012 7:35 AM
October 4, 2012 7:34 AM
The only person who ever told me I was obese was my crazy cardiologist. I love him. He is, however, somewhat over the top sometimes.

I still remember the conversation. He came in with his handheld body fat meter and said, "hold this out in front of you." Then, he said, "you know your BMI is 33, that means you're fully obese right?" BF% came back at 46% putting me WELL into obesity.

I hated him for saying it to me then, but I went home, and I started thinking, "how the hell did I end up like this?" The next day I started making changes for the better.

That being said, he's probably the only person I'd have ever accepted that from. I would've gotten defensive and angry if anyone else had said something to me about it.

Long story short, you better know the person VERY well to say something like that or be in a position of medical authority. Otherwise, don't say a peep.
Edited by VelociMama On October 4, 2012 7:34 AM
October 4, 2012 7:34 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.

Agree, you know if your heavy or not! No one needs to be told unless its by their doctor and they are offering help!
October 4, 2012 7:34 AM
People know when they're fat, they just don't do anything about it.
If you're close with them, bring up how YOU are trying to be more healthy and maybe they'll follow.
October 4, 2012 7:35 AM
I got told lol I heard people whispering about the size of my butt as I walked past in the street!

Did I like it ...NO, did it upset me...OFC, am I glad I heard it...YES!

I am happier that a person I didn't know made the comments, rather than someone I was close too. I would have been more hurt if it came from a loved one than someone I don't care about.

It also made me come home and properly look in the mirror and realise it was true..I had a giant sized butt :( I ate because I was stressed out with my family (Mum issues lol) and I honestly just didn't realise how far I had let myself go...crazy I didn't realise because I had been buying bigger and bigger clothes etc but I still thought I looked ok and I didn't I wore rose tinted goggles about that sideor size of me lol.

So now I would say Thank you to the whisperer if I saw them again, because it prompted me to try change myself and begin to lose the weight.
October 4, 2012 7:36 AM
I think unless you're a friend or a family member you shouldn't comment on someones weight. Its really not your place, and the chances of it being taken offensively are too high. My sister told me when my weight started creeping up. Of course I was aware but her observation let me know that everyone else was also aware lol. I'm still mad at my parents for not telling me I was fat in jr. high and high school. I look at the pictures now and its totally disgusting. My parents used to always say "you look fine" or "you weight is just fine" LIARS LIARS pants on fire!

If my future kids start becoming over weight I will most definitely let them know, and work on it with them as I wish my parents had done for me.
Edited by kooltray87 On October 4, 2012 7:37 AM
October 4, 2012 7:41 AM

As a "morbidly obese" person, I can honestly say it will hurt them deeply. My mother texted me the other day. I had no idea what had happened in her day ( at the time) to prompt this text, but she said she loved me and was worried about my health. She said she wanted me to outlive her. I replied " right back at ya babe!" with a smiley face... but I was crushed.

Later I found out she had been in the ER ( Registered Nurse) and had a 38 yr old woman ( obese) who had coded.
I am 37.... it made her freak out!

Needless to say, it was a bad day. We've talked and it is resolved. BUT I would say it is never anyone elses place to inform someone that they are obese, need to lose weight, need to work out, etc.

WE ALREADY KNOW ALL OF THOSE THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
October 4, 2012 7:43 AM
Same. I never really noticed either until I actually started looking at people.

The other thing is that Masschusetts usually ranks in the top 5 for "least obese" states.


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.
October 4, 2012 7:43 AM
Just my two cents - I really was deluded about my weight BOTH times I got big. The first time is understandable but the second - I really should have known better. Yes I knew I was bigger but I completely denied that I was that much bigger. The worst was all the people telling me how fabulous and amazing I looked - it helped me delude myself further. Thankfully in both cases I had a friend or family member that cared enough to say something - one tactfully, the other not so much, but either way the message got through to me and I did something about it. If it is someone close then saying something is the right thing to do (no matter that the person may know already) but if you are anything but a close friend or family member then probably not your place. I even feel strange when mere aquaintences note my weight loss - it is just not their place...
October 4, 2012 7:44 AM
I would never bring this up to someone unless I had a very close relationship to them, i.e. family, close friends, my partner, etc.

If it is someone you have a relationship with, then I think it appropriate as if they are truly obese and not just some extra pounds, you owe it to them as someone you profess to care about, to let them know that their health is in danger. For example, my older sister has two kids and she is a single mom, and used to be a smoker; I would bring it up to her from time to time, that it wasn't fair to herself or her kids to put her health at risk like that. She finally quit and is much happier and better off for it now.

The point is, if it is someone you have a close and good relationship with, they make be upset or offended at first, but would hopefully eventually come 'round and realise that you are only bringing it up because you genuinely care; also, obviously, your tone of voice and the way you phrase it will make a huge difference. If you are rude or smarmy, then it will obviously be taken offensively, rather than if you were to sit the person down and say something like "Hey, listen, I am worried about you and I want to help you, etc", or something similar.

Now, if it is just someone you know casually or professionally, as the colleague you mentioned, or even a total stranger, as the other woman you mentioned, I would say stear clear of it altogether. Not to sound rude or jaded, but ultimately, it is not your responsibility to take control of thier life or descisions.

It's like people who have drug or alcohol dependcies - would you walk up to a total stranger you saw doing drugs and say "you've got to stop, you are ruining your life" ? Most likely not, because you do not know them.

If your colleague was rude to you about your own weight, it is most liley bc he is lashing out, knowing either conciously or subconciously that he has the same issue/s. If it offended you so much, you should tell him that he was crossing the line and you don't appreciate being spoken to that way.
October 4, 2012 7:45 AM
The example that bothers me is the gym employee. It bothers me that you said that because we all know we are thinking that too when we walk into the gym. If you see someone who is overweight/obese working at the gym you wonder why they are overweight. We all think of it the first time. It's wrong, but it's a human reaction. I would never say anything to her. What business of mine is it that she is overweight and works at a gym? I guess it's because we expect the people who work at the gym to have perfect bodies. I am thinking about getting a part time job there and I am sure people will wonder why I'm overweight working at a gym. I'd flip if someone would say something to me though.
It is all about how people perceive things. I want to be a dietician, but I know no one will take me seriously unless I am at a healthy weight. How could I counsel people if I can't even control what I eat?
October 4, 2012 7:46 AM
I like to send an appropriate greeting card. People LOVE getting cards. I also put a little heart next to my name to take away the sting of me telling them how fat I think they are. They never say it, but I know they appreciate these little touches.

Contrarianheart <----Like so
October 4, 2012 7:46 AM
I think alot of people may have surrendered to their weight. I think alot of people on here saying "dont tell them, they know" come from a place of insight because they are doing something about it already...of course you are going to feel that way...that is why you are on this website. I'd be more curious to ask this question to people not actively doing something about their weight.

The fact is, most overweight people may know deep down they need to lose weight, but have surrendered to the fact they may be like that forever because its "too hard" or "not possible" or "not worth it". I think if told, it can help guide them in the right direction, or at least give them that motivation to try again...even if it is out of anger that the person said they needed to lose least the motivation is coming from somewhere. I think a total stranger should do it? no...I would think a friend or family will do it....the problem with family is...they will typically say what you want to hear...and you may hold you back from actually doing something about it. 2 cents
October 4, 2012 7:47 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?

October 4, 2012 7:47 AM
She just works at the gym probably making close to minimum wage. It's probably very similar to those that work in retail. So, I would not say a thing (seeing that she's basically a stranger).

To further your point, If you want to distinguish personal trainers versus someone working the front desk -- I can somewhat see your point. Naturally, it's difficult to convince someone you believe in what you do when you're 50 lbs overweight.


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?
October 4, 2012 7:47 AM
If they complained about their weight to me, yes. Or mentioned it, yes, I would.

Otherwise, nope.
October 4, 2012 7:48 AM
don't say anything- do you think the person isn't aware of it already?

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