Fat SHOULD be something to fear — when there’s too much of it in your body. This isn’t phobia. It’s medicine. It’s facts. Do not be “Factphobic.”

Plus size women who campaign for body positivity want us to believe that having lots of surplus fat is not a bad or scary thing.

The word “fat,” in and of itself, is not a scary word. It could mean many things.

But put the word “excess” before it, and we have a whole new animal: one to be araid of.

Heart disease and cancer are scary words because they imply significant health issues,” says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore; Diplomate, American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

Fat (and we are talking obese, not just overweight) should also be scary for the same reason — it implies potential for significant health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease; not to mention the increased risk of developing arthritis from wear and tear on the joints, as well as liver disease (fatty liver disease which can lead to a type of hepatitis),” explains Dr. Besser.

Ask Your Doctor How Excess Fat Is Related to the Following

  • Mobility problems, joint pain
  • Gout
  • Some cancers including uterine
  • Complications during pregnancy and delivery; difficulty conceiving
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

A personal trainer can prove, instantly, that having too much fat in the body is a bad thing and has no place in what true “body positivity” should be about (e.g., embracing an unmodifiable physical trait and wearing it proudly, such as being very tall or very dark skinned).

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A personal trainer can ask their very plus-size client to simply run down the street as fast as possible. Instant proof of disability.

The inability to run hard down a street is not anything to feel positive about. A hard brief run is a fundamental ability of a healthy fit body.

Though many non-overweight people can’t run too well down a street, you can certainly imagine how much more crippled they’d be if they were to awaken the next morning with 100 more pounds on their frame.

One body image influencer asks on her Facebook page, “Why is fat such a scary word?”

More Reasons “Fat” Is a Scary Word

• Too much of it is deadly for tens of thousands of Americans every year. Some estimates go to 300,000.

• Too much fat in a child can lead to psychological damage, even if her mother promotes body confidence and self-love.


An influencer for body acceptance may ask why “Fat” carries as much disdain as the so-called F word.

Excess body fat kills more women than breast, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers combined.

The body positive woman validates fat by pointing out that “we all have fat” and that it’s part of being human.

Pointing out that we all have fat stored everywhere has nothing to do with the dangers of obesity.

That’s like a smoker saying, “I’m not a smoker. I HAVE smoke.”


The human body was not meant to be big, even though a very small percentage of people can stay thin despite eating large portions.

“I try to tell my patients that ‘fat’ (and I use the word obesity rather than fat) is a chronic health condition, just like diabetes, high blood pressure and so on,” says Dr. Besser.

“I explain it is linked to multiple health issues and needs to be controlled.

“Unfortunately for many, being overweight is very obvious (unlike hypertension which doesn’t have any observable signs), so the person is immediately judged for his or her appearance.

“So my ‘fat’ patients tend to be somewhat depressed because of the way they are treated. Of course, this too affects their health and their ability to lose weight and learn a healthier lifestyle.”

If you have enough excess fat to be considered obese by your primary care physician, you should not embrace this any more than you’d embrace a sick liver from excess drinking.

Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 


Top image: Shutterstock/Grossinger