Sadly, a nine-author paper from last year found “discriminatory language used by peers and adults, which may be compounded by use within the medical community and in published research.” Those writers analyzed 300 articles from PubMed and found that “only 21.7% were adherent to PCL guidelines.” The abbreviation refers to Person-Centered Language.
Over the past half-century or so, only the manufacturing community seems to have learned a thing or two. Today, we would probably not see an ad like the one shown here. In the 1950s, L. Gidding & Co. sold the Chubbette clothing line through “stores that care.” In addition to a catalog of the offerings, also available by mail was…
“Pounds and Personality” — a booklet for parents of a chubby girl (understanding her problems, talent development, shyness, tactless remarks, the “game” of dieting, etc.) Written by Dr. Gladys Andrews…
Given the negative effects of stigma among children with obesity, it is imperative to advocate for PCL use within the medical community. Increased stringency by journal editors and publishers may be the next step in this process.
A recent multi-author paper bears the very explicit title, “Championing the use of people-first language in childhood overweight and obesity to address weight bias and stigma,” and is described as a joint statement from 8 different European, Canadian, and international organizations. They are talking about the realms of clinical practice, research, education, and advocacy communications, and in every area they hope to popularize PCL, also known as person-first and or patient-first language:
The use of compassionate, patient-centred language and imagery is considered a core strategy for addressing weight bias and obesity-related stigma… Biases are largely based on misconceptions of obesity being the result of individual weakness and consequently being an individual’s responsibility to address…
On the contrary, obesity is “a disease with complex biological, genetic, psychosocial and environmental drivers.” Regarding the psychosocial component, children at every stage of development are vulnerable to trauma from being shamed, name-called, teased, scolded, excluded, ridiculed, etc. because of their physical size. Going into excruciating detail about the damage that can be done, the authors list the…
[…] serious lifelong consequences including psychological distress, poorer social and academic outcomes, and adverse physical consequences impacting personality development, self-image, self-esteem and confidence, and overall quality of life.
Regarding such serious outcomes, it is to be hoped that most people would not want to be at cause. Through Wiley.com and whatever other channels are available, the members of these organizations hope to influence others, including “academic institutions, public health-authorities, professional organizations including healthcare, media, public health services and governing bodies.”
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Use of person-centred language among scientific research focused on childhood obesity,” NIH.gov, May 2022
Source: “Chubettes, the badly-named clothing line for overweight girls, 1957,” BoingBoing.net, 11/18/11
Source: “Championing the use of people-first language in childhood overweight and obesity to address weight bias and stigma,” Wiley.com, 04/01/23