Swapping terms like obese and overweight with ‘large’ or ‘gaining more weight’ encourages families of children who have excess weight issues to follow their physician's advice on better weight management, a new study says.
Researchers recommend that physicians be sensitive when talking about children's weight and avoid using words that may hurt their parents' feelings.
The study was based on review of some 24 studies conducted on the subject from 1980 to 2010.
“Health professionals probably shouldn’t use terms like fat, chubby, overweight or obese. Terms that are more neutral, less judgmental and less stigmatizing should be used. Most of the time families will want that sensitive type of language. And that’s what clinicians should want, too, because that’s what families want," said Geoff Ball, a researcher in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry with the Department of Pediatrics at University of Alberta.
Parents feel that they are being blamed for their child's condition while some parents feel that the healthcare personnel are being rude by describing the child as obese.
The study also found that physicians were usually reluctant to talk about the child's weight because they felt the parents might get offended and parents usually wait for the physician to start a conversation about the child's weight, especially when there are other health complications associated with the child's weight.
Researchers found that better communication between the parents and physicians made parents more comfortable and encouraged to follow medical advice.
“If these changes are made it could lead to: families being more apt to follow the doctor’s advice, families being more apt to return for follow-up appointments, better interactions between health-care professionals and families, and families being more satisfied with their care. You want to have a positive rapport with families so they stay engaged. Those are outcomes you would want," Ball said in a news release.