The latest in the fact-denying movement is that “obesity” is an insulting word and should not even be used by doctors as a medical term.

When I studied for my personal trainer certification, the thick textbook that I used – issued by the American Council on Exercise – repeatedly used the words obese and obesity.

Overweight individuals who see these words as evil and non-medical have gone as far as sticking an asterisk in place of the first “e” when making Instagram posts.

But they ARE medical terms. Furthermore, they’re also terms used by personal trainers to describe body composition.

For a million decades, nobody’s ever had any problem with this word, including the morbidly overweight.

  • Now suddenly, it’s the “O” word.
  • Why only NOW is the “O” word causing such upheaval?

We can thank Instagram and YouTube stars who use clever maneuvers and psychological trickery to reel in many easily-manipulated overweight followers.

These influencers know how to burrow into the psyches of their frustrated followers and cast them under their spell.

Not only do doctors freely use the word obese when discussing issues directly to their patients, but they also use it among each other.

“Obesity is a medical diagnosis…PERIOD,” 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.

Dr. Besser explains, “It is not intended as a slur, name calling or an insult.

“It actually has a medical definition and there are different degrees of obesity based on one’s BMI:

  • Overweight is BMI of 25-30
  • Class 1 obesity is BMI 30-34.9
  • Class 2 obesity is 35-39.9
  • Class 3 obesity (also called morbid obesity) is a BMI of greater than 40.”

BMI stands for body mass index.

And There’s More

For those who believe that the terms are derogatory, shaming and insulting words, remind yourself that a doctor can be board certified in “obesity medicine.”

In fact, abom.org is the site for the American Board of Obesity Medicine. How can anyone deny that this is a medical term?

Shutterstock/Luis Louro

Medical Journals with a “Slur” Word in their Titles

•  Obesity
•  Journal of Obesity
•  International Journal of Obesity
•  Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders
•  Journal of Obesity and Weight Loss Therapy
•  Journal of Obesity and Weight-loss Medication

Still convinced it’s an insulting word rather than a medical term?

Google Scholar is a site that contains links to all sorts of research papers published in medical journals.

I typed “obese” in the search field, and below is an image of what popped up. You will see the “O” word in paper titles and descriptors.

They are medical terms. If they were slurs or derogatory, insulting or shaming in any way, then why don’t mean people snort, “Hey obese, move out of the way!” or, “That tub of obese took my chair”?

When people want a reference to size to be an insult or slur, we all know the terms they use.

Even Dr. Now from “My 600 Pound Life” uses the “O” word – and quite frequently at that.

What’s really going on here?

It’s fair to wonder if body positive influencers who are outraged over the use of this age-old word have come to this point as a way to deflect the truth – a truth that they can’t bear to come face to face with.

We know that alcoholics, drug addicts, gamblers and those with anorexia nervosa are known to vehemently deny that they “have a problem.” This denial also exists in the obese population.

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. 
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Top image: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych