Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/29015
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Words matter: A qualitative investigation of which weight status terms are acceptable and motivate weight loss when used by health professionals
Author(s): Gray, Cindy M
Hunt, Kate
Lorimer, Karen
Anderson, Annie S
Benzeval, Michaela
Wyke, Sally
Keywords: Health Professional
Weight Status
Excess Weight
Optimistic Bias
Weight Issue
Issue Date: 29-Jun-2011
Citation: Gray CM, Hunt K, Lorimer K, Anderson AS, Benzeval M & Wyke S (2011) Words matter: A qualitative investigation of which weight status terms are acceptable and motivate weight loss when used by health professionals. BMC Public Health, 11, Art. No.: 513. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-11-513
Abstract: Background: Health professionals have an important role to play in the management of obesity, but may be unsure how to raise weight issues with patients. The societal stigma associated with excess weight means that weight status terms may be misunderstood, cause offence and risk upsetting patient-professional relationships. This study investigated the views of people who were overweight or obese on the acceptability of weight status terms and their potential to motivate weight loss when used by health professionals. Methods. A qualitative study comprising 34 semi-structured interviews with men and women in their mid-to-late 30s and 50s who were overweight or obese and had recently been informed of their weight status. Thematic framework analysis was conducted to allow the systematic comparison of views by age, gender and apparent motivation to lose weight. Results: Although many people favoured 'Overweight' to describe their weight status, there were doubts about its effectiveness to motivate weight loss. Terms including 'BMI' ('Body Mass Index') or referring to the unhealthy nature of their weight were generally considered acceptable and motivational, although a number of men questioned the validity of BMI as an indicator of excess weight. Participants, particularly women, felt that health professionals should avoid using 'Fat'. Whilst response to 'Obese' was largely negative, people recognised that it could be appropriate in a health consultation. Some younger people, particularly those who appeared motivated to lose weight, felt 'Obese' could encourage weight loss, but it was also clear the term could provoke negative emotions if used insensitively. Conclusions: Although most people who are overweight or obese accept that it is appropriate for health professionals to discuss weight issues with patients, there is great variation in response to the terms commonly used to describe excess weight. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to discussing weight status: some men and younger people may appreciate a direct approach, whilst others need to be treated more sensitively. It is therefore important that health professionals use their knowledge and understanding to select the terms that are most likely to be acceptable, but at the same time have most potential to motivate each individual patient.
DOI Link: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-513
Rights: © Gray et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011 This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Licence URL(s): http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Words matter a qualitative investigation of which weight status terms are acceptable and motivate weight loss when used by health professionals.pdfFulltext - Published Version355.63 kBAdobe PDFView/Open
Gray-etal-BMCPublicHealth-2011.pdfFulltext - Published Version355.63 kBAdobe PDFView/Open



This item is protected by original copyright



A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact library@stir.ac.uk providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.