On Obesity and Pamaskong Pagbati

There’s a recent buzz in the social media world about an actress who was described as “obese” in an educational module used in a local primary school. People has been weighing in with different opinions. The actress herself also has already released her official statement.

I’m not the kind who reacts in these kind of issues but I would like to weigh in this matter as a healthcare professional and a future physician.

The term “obese” in itself is not an insult or an offense. It is, in fact, a clinical term used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify individuals whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is equal or above 30. A BMI is a computed value based on a person’s height and weight and is often a reflection of an individual’s overall health (i.e. a high BMI is a risk factor to developing Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiovascular Diseases, etc.).

However, labelling a person “obese” mainly based on the fact that he/she appears mataba or malusog is what’s beyond the line. On my opinion, the term “obese” or “obesity” must only be used as its definition describes.

There are several reasons why a person becomes obese. Women who are battling PCOS are often also struggling with their weight. Most people diagnosed with anxiety disorders resort to binge-eating as a coping mechanism. Some are just born with genes that predispose them to obesity despite their efforts to a healthy lifestyle.

My point is, it is not for us to label people based only on appearances. There is always more beneath the surface. We are a generation of woke-ness (yuh, that’s a word) and with being woke comes great responsibility. Let us be more sensitive in how we use our words.

And since Christmas season is almost here, I know, family gatherings. This is also a friendly reminder that “Uyyyy, tumaba ka” can either be a compliment or an offense. So choose your pagbati wisely. We all have fought (different) battles this 2020.

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