Send to

Choose Destination
Patient Educ Couns. 2013 May;91(2):186-91. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2012.12.008. Epub 2013 Jan 29.

Talking about obesity with clients: preferred terms and communication styles of U.K. pre-registration dieticians, doctors, and nurses.

Author information

Division of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.



To describe trainee healthcare professionals' preferred terms when talking about obesity, their beliefs about initiating discussions about weight, and their confidence about consulting with obese people.


A self-completed questionnaire collected data on demographics, preferred terms, beliefs about initiation of discussions, confidence and training needs from 1036 pre-registration dieticians, nurses and doctors.


Participants' preferred terms when raising the issue of obesity with clients were BMI (mean=.96), weight (mean=.71) and unhealthy BMI (mean=.43). When defining a client's bodyweight, students endorsed the euphemism 'your weight may be damaging your health' (67.6%). A proactive, collaborative communication style was preferred by 34.9% of participants. 58.2% of participants felt confident about discussing obesity with clients and 95.1% felt that that more training would be useful.


It is reassuring that U.K. trainee healthcare professionals avoid value-laden terms and broadly endorse words preferred by people with obesity. It is, however, concerning that the majority of participants did not favor a proactive, collaborative communication style.


Educators of tomorrow's healthcare professionals could take advantage of students' desire for more training on how to effectively talk to clients with obesity about their weight. Such training would, however, require the development of clear guidelines on terminology and communication styles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center