Obesity and People-First Language
For people with obesity, bias and discrimination are daily facts of life. Negative perceptions, stigmatizing language and other forms of bias mean that people with obesity are denied jobs and promotions, face rejection by peers, and even receive inappropriate treatment from healthcare providers.
Experts say that appropriate language can help reduce the stigma of obesity. The Obesity Society therefore recommends the use of “people first” language.
This people-first approach is commonly used for most chronic diseases and is the accepted norm when addressing people with mental and physical disabilities. The American Psychological Association has endorsed the use of language that puts “people first, not their disability” and the American Medical Association Manual of Style agrees, saying: “Avoid labeling people with their disabilities or diseases (e.g., the blind, schizophrenics, epileptics).”
The Obesity Society strongly endorses using people-first language when discussing obesity. For example, reporters and writers are encouraged to use the phrase “persons with obesity” rather than “obese patients.”