Should You Tell Your Loved Ones They Are Fat This Holiday Season?


Is your fondest holiday wish to permanently alienate one of your nearest and dearest? Are you looking for a way to ensure that your relatives never invite you to another festive family celebration? Well then perhaps you should follow this advice from the BBC: "Tell loved ones they are overweight this Christmas."

Wait, did we read that right, because it sounds awfully...counterintuitive? Umm, yep. It might seem like telling someone they're fat is not the best gift you can give them, but according to Professor David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, it is:

Suggesting to someone that they should consider losing a few pounds may not be a comfortable conversation to have. But if someone close to you has a large waistline then as long as you do it sensitively, discussing it with them now could help them avoid critical health risks later down the line and could even save their life.

Depending on the specific person, it's possible that in some kind of long-range scenario, you'd be doing this person a favor by discussing their weight with them. But for the immediate moment, it's pretty likely you'll only be guaranteeing that you're the target of your loved one's burning rage. Thus, it should come as no surprise that a survey found that most people shy away from talking about this topic:

The survey of more than 2,000 people found 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds would not tell a loved one they should lose weight because of a fear they would hurt the other person's feelings. For those aged 25 to 44 it was just over a third, while for older people it was about one in four.

That's a very legitimate fear! Yet Dr. Jean Pierre Despres, scientific director of the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk, says it is possible to approach the topic in a non-hurtful way:

Start by encouraging someone close to you to make simple lifestyle changes such as becoming more active, making small alterations to their eating habits and replacing sugary drinks with water.

Okay, got that? You just tell them they're overweight and suggest some "easy" ways they could improve their life, and they totally take your comment to heart, and then you hug...and then they throw a casserole dish full of green beans at you. Seriously, it doesn't matter how good your intentions are and how sensitively you bring it up, that kind of conversation is not exactly a Christmas party starter.

So unless you want to revel in the smugness of "trying to save someone's life" as you sit alone in your childhood bedroom while the rest of the family talks shit about you and eats a delicious ham, it's probably not wise to wrap up a plaque that says, "You're Overweight," and give it to your Aunt Sally for Christmas. Maybe better to save the health interventions for a less emotionally-charged holiday like Arbor Day.

'Tell Loved Ones They Are Overweight This Christmas' [BBC]

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