Essay: The Problem With “Overweight” And “Obese”
“Obesity” is a category people fall into based on their body mass index (BMI), a metric that has come up frequently in the last two years of the pandemic; the CDC claimed that it indicates a higher risk for severe COVID-19, and one’s BMI measurement qualified some to get the vaccine earlier than others. As a copy desk, we had a discussion about person-first language when it comes to “obesity” (e.g., “person with obesity”), but the truth is the term itself is best avoided. BMI doesn’t measure anything about an individual’s health — it simply looks at height and weight and is based on a Belgian scientist’s idea of “the average man” 200 years ago. It’s racist and served as a stepping stone to the creation of eugenics. And both “obesity” and “overweight” have contributed to weight stigma that leads to employment discrimination and physical and mental health issues.