When I was a child anyone with a weight problem was viewed in the school playground with a mixture of sympathy & mockery. I'm not for a moment condoning the attitudes of yesteryear, but the time is overdue for some straight talking to parents whose children have weight problems.
The decision by the Department of Health to send letters to parents informing them their offspring need to lose weight is a step in the right direction (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/aug/04/health ).
However, the department will not be using the term "obese" in the letters. Instead, the words "very overweight" will be used:
"Dr Will Cavendish, director of health and wellbeing at the Department of Health, said it was important parents received information that was useful and which helped them take action.
" 'We have not banned (the word obese) but we have chosen not to use it,' he said.
" 'There is no point giving them a letter that doesn't have any impact on their behaviour' ".
This is neither the issue nor the time for mandarins' euphemisms. If children are fat (there, I've said the unsayable), the parents need to be told that. No equivocating, no gingerly tip-toeing around the subject. Spell it out to those parents, or they'll continue to see a trip to McDonalds as a treat.
The clinching argument is provided in the article's final paragraph:
"Two thirds of adults and a third of children are either overweight or obese in the UK. The figure is predicted to rise to almost nine in ten adults and two thirds of children by 2050, which could cost the economy £50bn due to obesity-related ill-health."