Mon | Jun 24, 2019

Don't call patients 'fat', warns doctor

Published:Monday | June 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/ Gleaner Writer
Dr Orville Morgan

As the obesity crisis worsens in Jamaica, one senior medical practitioner has cautioned his colleagues against using terms such as 'fat' in reference to their patients, and has urged them to start making practical changes to their offices to accommodate overweight individuals.

Instead of using terms such as obese or morbidly obese, obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Orville Morgan suggested that doctors should use terms such as unhealthy, overweight or the more politically correct, body mass index.

"We can talk about it in the clinical setting with our colleagues, but do not use them to your patients," he said.

"Don't you ever say a woman is fat," warned the doctor.

Dr Morgan was addressing his colleagues on Saturday morning during the Medical Association of Jamaica 2018 Symposium. The event was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel under the theme, 'Obesity: Do we even have a slim chance?'

Dr Morgan, who has been practising for over 30 years, told The Gleaner that physicians should try to use terms that are positive, as this will motivate their patients to change their status and give them hope.

"Women were always offended when you spoke like that, persons were always offended, but they kept it because we have a culture in which abuse is common, people took it," he said.




He noted that obesity was especially high in menopausal women and pointed to studies that showed that it was linked to at least 12 different kinds of cancer.

"You can go through a whole day in your practice without seeing one normal weight person, because the incident of obesity is so high," he told The Gleaner.

In addition to watching what they say, physicians were also urged to make their offices more accommodating.

"We need to change out some of our furniture. We have to get sturdy chairs. It is not uncommon for us to see a number of women that are 300 pounds or more. It is not uncommon anymore. Before, you used to see the occasional woman, now it is quite common," he told his colleagues.

He said that physicians should also consider changing out their tables, toilet seats and even reading materials, since the "glamour magazines" sometimes give women "bad feelings".