Message Boards » General Diet and Weight Loss Help

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

Topic has been inactive for 30 days or more and images have been disabled.
Display All Images
October 4, 2012 4:52 PM
October 4, 2012 4:52 PM
I see patients everyday with a variety of weight (and diet) related issues... diabetes, knee/ankle/hip/back (insert body part here) pain, high triglycerides/cholesterol, gallbladder disease, shortness of breath, skin conditions, stretch marks, etc. It would be negligent (and irresponsible) for me not to tell someone that their weight is a contributing factor to their disease.

As a former fatty, I'm sensitive to the various issues but I try to be very clear and direct. I've had patients get mad at me for pointing out the obvious and I have actually pulled out some before pictures of me on my phone in an effort to show that I've walked the walk. I call it photo-credibility. :)

Mostly patients appreciate the information and insights I provide, even if they will never take action to fix their weight problem. But there have been a few who followed through. Several have even ended up on MFP.

October 4, 2012 4:54 PM
Only of you are their medical doctor and they have just a physical and you are giving them the results and sound medical advice for their health.
October 4, 2012 4:55 PM
KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Everyone has to decide for him/herself when it's time to make a change. Take care of your business. Unless the person is blind, they know know they have a weight problem. The person may be dealing with deeper issues and don't need your opinion or observation.

If a person goes to a gym, at least the person is trying. Who made you God?
October 4, 2012 5:02 PM
The only people who aren't conscious of their size are people with dimorphism, and shouldn't be told they're fat anyway. A lot of times they're associated with some sort of eating disorder. However, I think with family it's different. I will say to my sister, "Rachel, you need to start eating healthy. I'm worried about your health, especially because ____, _____, and ____ run in the family." However, I would never say it to a friend. It's none of my business, your business, or someone else's. It's their business.
October 4, 2012 5:02 PM
Just don't. =/ A person who is obese knows they are obese. You don't need to tell them. When THEY are ready to do something about it then they will but you putting your two cents in isn't going to do anything but upset them more. It's none of your business how they are choosing to live their life. You may express your concerns for their health if you feel you must (Still would stay away from it) but why would you bring up their weight? Why would you even think it's your job to get into such a personal thing for them? Focus on your own body.
October 4, 2012 5:21 PM
Unless they ask you point blank am I obese/overweight, they are a close loved one that you couldn't live without, or you are their physician it's not something you should say. As for that guy in Wisconsin, he probably should have kept his mouth shut but I don't think he was being a bully. He seemed to actually be concerned for her and the viewers albeit unneeded and totally out of line concern it was from a place of caring/concern not a bully calling names and degrading a person.
October 4, 2012 5:44 PM


Now, this is only my opinion, but I think the only time to tell someone they are obese is if you are their doctor, and they're your patient. Then it's relevant.

So it's not relevant if your spouse, child, mother, father, best friend, etc. has at serious medical problem? I must say I disagree.

I have cut ties with people for this. My weight and my body are my business, the same as my alcohol use (rare,) smoking (quit,) love of bmx racing (not really,) career as a professional race car driver (definitely not,) and Summer internships as a mercenary for various warlords (I'm not going to speak about the validity of this one.) People engage in all sorts of behaviors with varying levels of risk and varying levels of reward, both of which are valued subjectively. It is possible to get more benefit from enjoying/coping with food than from being healthy, particularly when a person has other stressors in his/her life. In my experience, when people start "expressing their loving concerns" they become one of those aggravating stressors, if they weren't already.
October 4, 2012 5:50 PM
When I was obese I had no idea I was obese. I truly did not look like it. I don't think I look especially fat now even though I am still very overweight (I have over 50 pounds to go until goal weight). I wish my husband had said something to me long before I became obese.

Unless you are very close to someone it's probably a bad idea to say anything about their weight.
October 4, 2012 5:50 PM

There is never a right time. No matter how kindly or lovingly you say it -- it hurts. Overweight people know they are overweight. Most of them are already hurting because of their weight. Just don't!

So True!
October 4, 2012 6:33 PM
I don't totally agree w/ all the replies that state overweight/obese people know they are overweight or obese. When I was a kid, I knew I was chubby- but a kid today who was my size back then would be considered 'normal' now. It seems to me that this also applies to adults- folks have so many options and there are so many other overweight people around all the time that it is more and more 'normal' to be 30, 50, 60, maybe even 80 lbs overweight. For example, after losing 66 lbs, I now wear a size 14 or 16- which I can get at most clothing stores quite easily- but I'm still obese at 180 lbs, 5'4 inches. I'm happy that I no longer have to shop at the 'big girls' stores, but if I weren't so keenly aware of health and appropriate weights for my sizes, I might just think I was a 'chubby'.

That said, I agree that it's probably only appropriate to bring up weight as a larger conversation on health with your close friends or family. And I know from experience that you can't force someone to make a change. However, sometimes a seed from that conversation will stick and eventually grow into action.

A better way to 'talk' to anyone else about weight is just to be an example. Inviting a friend or acquaintance for a walk or a boot camp class (with no expectations) seems to be within bounds. Or, invite them over for dinner and cook a great healthy meal. No words need to be exchanged (especially not w/ the zeal of the newly converted). Just sharing healthy experiences is a good step. It may stick- it may not.
October 5, 2012 7:09 AM

people who are obese KNOW they are obese. what gives anyone the high ground to tell them that????



Our friends and families must be really thankful for the communities on this site, since it appears we turn into a bunch of insufferable jerks once we've dropped a couple of pounds...
October 5, 2012 7:12 AM
October 5, 2012 7:17 AM
unless you know them REALLY WELL or you're their MD or they ask ... don't say anything.
October 5, 2012 7:23 AM
I think if you're close to the person then you can bring it up gently. I got to over 200 pounds and no one ever said a word - I've always felt fat, so when I actually became fat, it was hard for me to really know how bad it was. I could still fit clothes from normal stores, and I always got, "You're not fat, you look fine" I didn't look fine! I was HUGE! Once I stepped on the scale and saw for myself, only then did I change. If someone had said something, I might have started earlier.

I wouldn't say, "Hey, you are obese" though. I would say "Let's go hiking" or cook something healthy for the both of us. I agree, most people know when they're fat.

If you knew someone was anorexic or bulimic, you would say something. If you knew they had a drinking problem, you would say something. I think as long as you KNOW the person (i.e. not a coworker or a casual friend or acquaintance) you should bring it up if you know for sure that their habits are damaging (not someone who is obese and also takes care of their health). Even if they are not obese and have a perfectly normal BMI but eat junk all the time, you can encourage them to be healthier. It's not just about weight. Obesity is unfortunately a health condition that happens to be manifested on the outside ohwell
October 5, 2012 7:26 AM
You'd be labeled a bully if you try to help, even though that's not what a bully really is... If you notice someone at the "GYM" gaining weight then you can help because it's obvious whatever they are trying is not working and would be willing to be open to new ideas on how to lose.

In case people don't know already. The letter he wrote to the anchor is not considered bullying. Read quote below.

David ****son, chairman of the Bullying Prevention Initiative of California. "Bullying, normally, is what someone, in a very mean spirited way, continually and on a repeated basis, does to another person, typically in a social setting in front of other people…It was a stupid letter he wrote, but he commented privately."
October 5, 2012 7:34 AM

This is one of the many negatives of being obese. Everyone thinks your body is their business.

This. Why is the health of your co-worker or gym lady any of your business?

If you want to provide general information on how you've found ways to eat healthier - go ahead. People get excited about their own new lifestyle changes and frequently share that information. It's not a whole lot different then sharing beauty tips, or a new recipe you found. Even saying things like - wow, my joints feel better since I lost weight - would be fine - because you're talking about yourself, not them.

But telling someone that they're overweight - it's not helpful. It says nothing. All you're doing is fat-shaming them. I don't care what your intentions are. The fact is that you should be paying more attention to what you're doing, vs. judging others and then proceeding to tell them about it.

If you're worried about the health of a loved one (or you're they're doctor) by all means, say something. But try to be helpful. "You've gained weight" helps no one.

It's so confusing to me why people can't simply focus on themselves, making themselves happy, making themselves better. The idea that we have some higher purpose to enlighten those who are overweight prior to them seeking out help seems awfully egotistical to me. Let people make their choices in their own time.
October 5, 2012 7:40 AM
Close family and close friend yes it is ok to voice your opinion. Anyone else outside that circle, no, not on less they asked you for your opinion
October 5, 2012 7:50 AM
I am a firm believer of "Actions speak louder than words". I made a huge life change in July and am not quite out of the overweight bucket, but getting there. Let's just say that my own lifestyle change has impacted many around me and they also are starting to pay more attention to what they eat and what they do.

Be a positive role model and be open about your challenges and when your family/friends are ready, they will ask...and you will introduce them to MFP and what you are doing to make you life so much more enjoyable.
October 5, 2012 7:51 AM

I'd start up 5k runs for Obesity awareness lol, but then everyone would think I'm some sort of bully!

For what it's worth, I don't think a run which was designed to bring awareness to the obesity problem would be considered bullying. You're not walking up to someone and saying "hey, you're obese," you're planning an event which brings a health issue into people's minds.
October 5, 2012 8:25 AM

KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Everyone has to decide for him/herself when it's time to make a change. Take care of your business. Unless the person is blind, they know know they have a weight problem. The person may be dealing with deeper issues and don't need your opinion or observation.

If a person goes to a gym, at least the person is trying. Who made you God?

So retired Mom, your good old friend is doing coke and drinking 9 beers a day. Now what?
October 5, 2012 8:57 AM


KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Everyone has to decide for him/herself when it's time to make a change. Take care of your business. Unless the person is blind, they know know they have a weight problem. The person may be dealing with deeper issues and don't need your opinion or observation.

If a person goes to a gym, at least the person is trying. Who made you God?

So retired Mom, your good old friend is doing coke and drinking 9 beers a day. Now what?

You bring up a very good point. Do you approach someone who is obese the same way someone who does drugs? How do you even confront a friend about his drug habit?
October 5, 2012 9:09 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?


It's just like the anchorwoman said, 'You don't think I know this already?'. To the OP, I don't think it's in anyone's place to really say anything. Let that person come around to it when it's their time to do so, otherwise you risk greatly offending someone or making them incredibly insecure, seeing as their issues are now being brought to attention. It's not good to ignore this.. buuuut.. Well... I dunno.
October 5, 2012 9:12 AM
JFC why do people think it's their place to say anything to another person about their appearance? Mind your business and I'll mind mine.
October 5, 2012 9:14 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?

Well, see, this is the thing:

Most obese people have this thing where they, being obese, already know. I don't see how you can survive in this society without knowing that you, unlike those "saintly thinner people", are obese. People own mirrors, people go shopping for clothes, most people have correct vision. Unless it's one of those "the weight slowly crept up on me" things where it's gradual and less noticiable over time, why would anyone need to pull over these apparently "clueless" obese people and go

"Hey, listen, Jack. You might not know this due to living in your body for like 40 years .... but hate to break it to you, you're obese."

Pretty sure they already got the memo and don't need to be reminded of the obvious.

There's this dude in one of my design classes ... he has to be at least 400-500lbs. I see him struggle to move, I hear him breathe heavily as if he's gasping for air. I don't really feel the need to go "hey ... did you notice under all your constant stuggles to move and breathe, that you're obese?"

Not only would that be rude and unkind (even if it is the truth), it wouldn't be my place. I don't know him and from what I can see, he's polite to everyone and is a student in the class like everyone else.
Edited by likearadiowave On October 5, 2012 9:18 AM

Message Boards » General Diet and Weight Loss Help

Posts by members, moderators and admins should not be considered medical advice and no guarantee is made against accuracy.