No More Name-Calling

Name-calling is something that civility puts out of bounds, especially when the subject is someone with a chronic disease or a disability. Decades have passed since it was permissible to demean people by labeling them with a disability or a chronic condition. Labels like “cripples,” “autistics,” and “epileptics” have — thankfully — passed out of common use.

One bad example is still hanging on. Labeling people as “obese” remains commonplace. It’s a subtle, objective artifact of pervasive weight weight bias.

The Obesity Society and all of the organizations of the Obesity Care Continuum (OCC) have taken a stand for people-first language in obesity. The OCC includes the major professional and patient organizations devoted to addressing obesity as an urgent matter of health:

People-first language is a well-accepted norm for addressing people affected by chronic conditions with respect. For example, under both AMA and APA guidelines, publications must refer to “people with diabetes,” not “diabetics.”

In a new editorial published online in Obesity, ConscienHealth founder Ted Kyle and Rebecca Puhl of Rudd Center bring attention to the the importance of people-first language:

Obese is an identity. Obesity is a disease. By addressing the disease separately from the person — and doing it consistently — we can pursue this disease while fully respecting the people affected.

Click here to read the commentary by Kyle and Puhl, click here to read the position statement of the Obesity Care Continuum, and click here to read more about people-first language in obesity.

Name My Peas, photograph © doolloop / flickr

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.