General Health Wednesday March 25, 2015

Is It Cruel Or Kind To Tell A Friend They're Fat?

Back in January, Steve Miller, a weight loss 'expert', claimed that introducing a 'Tell A Friend They're Fat Day' in the UK would help improve overall public health. With the idea seemingly being to upset people into losing weight, Miller was so convinced by it that he even went so far as to contact the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, suggesting that the day be made official. It wasn't and, needless to say, almost everyone was against Miller's idea – but was there a nugget of common sense in it? Is the best way to get our loved ones to lose weight to tell them that they need to?

Losing weight is ultimately something that you have to do yourself. It's all well and good getting help – or else what are personal trainers for? – but it's still down to you at the end of the day. 'Fat shaming' can go one of two ways – either the shamed one is thankful and spurred on towards weight loss, or they are insulted and upset. Indeed, critics of Miller's 'Tell A Friend They're Fat Day' have argued that in most cases, 'fat shaming' will have an adverse effect, even leading people to put on more weight.

Steve Miller's plan does seem to make certain assumptions about people that are overweight. Most obviously, the premise behind his campaign relies on the person not knowing they are overweight, that's very unlikely to be the case. Despite its rising prevalence, being overweight is still an issue in modern Britain, with many people feeling self-conscious about their size. Waistlines aren't expanding because we're oblivious to the changes, but because lifestyles and diets have become less healthy. If it were as simple as just informing someone they had gained weight, then people would most likely be able to talk themselves into weight loss. But that just isn't the case.

Experts agree that one of the best ways to lose weight is to get support from those around you. One of the key reasons people use personal trainers is because they offer a framework that comes complete with all of the encouragement a person could require for reaching their goals. It is the same reason that some people go to dieticians, and it is definitely why so many people are more successful when they try losing weight with a gym buddy – the support just makes it easier. That's not to say that some people wouldn't thrive on being shamed, but the chances are that in most cases people are going to do better when they're given the advice, guidance and help that they need.

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