With holiday gatherings on our agendas this week, it’s likely most people are dreading at least one potentially uncomfortable conversation topic. For many, that topic involves weight or appearance. Have you ever told a partner, friend or family member they should lose weight? Has anyone ever said this to you? Do you know someone who has no problem commenting on others’ weight or is that subject off limits?
A recent poll of more than 2,000 people commissioned by the International Chair on Cardiometabolic Risk (ICCR) to highlight the risks of being overweight revealed that men have a “tougher” time telling a partner to lose weight.
31% of men surveyed don’t want to confront their partner about losing weight, while 10% of women who wouldn’t want to tell their man to drop a few pounds. However, women are much more likely to find it difficult to tell a close friend to go on a diet (23%), compared with 8% of men.
Professor David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, which backed the survey said, “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.”
Still, I wouldn’t consider that license to tell your partner/cousin/sibling/friend to slim down in the middle of dinner, surrounded by others. Just pass the potatoes and find a quiet time later or another day when you can tell them that you care about them and are concerned about their health.
Who knows? They might already be looking into ways to improve their lifestyle. Singling someone out can hurt feelings and may even discourage that person from making changes. In some cases, you might even be better off saying nothing at all. Weight is such a touchy subject, you need to think carefully before opening the discussion.
What do you think? When is it okay and when is it not okay to talk about weight with your loved ones?