Let’s ditch diet obsessions and get a wiggle on to lose weight, says Dr Philippa Kaye

I TRY not to be judgmental. In fact, I think treating patients without judging them is a prerequisite for a doctor.

That’s why I don’t like the #FatButFit hashtag hooked on new research. Science from combined studies in the US has concluded it is possible to have obesity and still be fit.


Dr Philippa Kaye fills in for Dr Zoe while she is on maternity leaveCredit: Rex

While the research is brilliant and proves a fact lots of doctors have known for decades, it’s the “but” in the hashtag I have an issue with.

Those three letters are filled with judgment. They stigmatise a huge percentage of the population already suffering because of how society views them. The “but” makes the word before it negative when it doesn’t need to be.

Much better would be #FatAndFit or #FitAtAnySize – more inclusive and reducing the stigma for people dealing with long-term weight issues.

Every GP knows people who have obesity don’t always access healthcare when they need to. The stigma behind their size contributes to that. They don’t attend screenings, despite being more at risk of certain conditions, for fear of being shamed or told off about their size.

I’ve heard from women who were made to lie on the floor for smear tests after being told they were too heavy for the bed. No wonder they didn’t go back.

The notion of “but” needs to go, and the language we use talking about obesity has to change.

People aren’t obese. They have obesity.

This stuff matters. I have brown eyes. I’m not simply “brown eyes”.

This reminds us obesity is a chronic disease and not a descriptive term.

Using someone’s weight as a measure to describe their physical appearance doesn’t help anyone.

This new research should be music to the ears of millions of people with obesity. It shows we need to concentrate on exercise, not diet, when it comes to tackling weight.

The diet industry is worth billions globally yet obesity figures are rising and show no signs of abating. If dieting really worked, why is that the case?

Using someone’s weight as a measure to describe their physical appearance doesn’t help anyone.

Dr Philippa Kaye

You can move more

Obesity is complicated. Most of it is genetic – although those genes might not be turned on at birth or childhood.

Research shows dieting helps in just five per cent of cases. So why this obsession? What will help you improve your health is moving more, no matter what your size.

To get people moving, we need major societal shifts, from the top down. We need political change. We need supermarkets to get on board and focus on promoting nutritionally dense foods.

We need gyms to be spaces where anyone of any size can feel comfortable. We need sports brands to size their clothes appropriately and make sure men and women who have obesity can get proper support clothing and sports bras.

We need the media to promote healthy people of every size and we need to get filters off social media.

There is much that needs to change. But we can all play a part. I see lots of patients who aren’t happy and want to change their body shape. My advice to them is always the same: Yes, it is hard – but you can move more.

I don’t necessarily mean signing up to a gym, sweating it out in a spin class or running marathons. I mean walking the kids to school or carrying the shopping home instead of getting the bus. Get off that bus a stop early.

Climb the stairs. Set a timer to stand up and have a wiggle for ten minutes every hour, or a stretch. Pop on your favourite music and dance as you do the housework, the ironing or gardening. It doesn’t matter what the movement is. Just do more of it.

What will help you improve your health is moving more, no matter what your size.

Dr Philippa Kaye

Find your thing – the movement that makes you happy – and keep doing it.

In a size-conscious society, we need to move away from being obsessed with weight and move towards being fitter. That can only be a good thing.

Be proud of #FatAndFit. In time, we will change those hashtags to #Fit and #Strong with no mention of size at all. What do you think the hashtag should be?

Susanna Reid in spat with ‘fat-shaming’ diet guru who thinks obese Brits should be turned away from fast-food restaurants


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here