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Obesity is a chronic disease not a choice

But the language we use suggests most people don't see it that way. In 2021 there were over 40,000 instances* of news stories using the word “obese" in reference to people. When we label someone “obese,” their identity is defined by a condition, reinforcing the perception that the person suffering with obesity is at fault.

Changing the word
could change the world

Encouraging person-first language—saying people "have obesity," rather than "are obese"—acknowledges that those among us with a medical diagnosis of obesity (42% of the population) are more than a label.

Changing language won’t solve the whole problem, but we can help destigmatize a disease—and its treatment—when we separate it from identity. Calibrate has partnered with experts to mark World Obesity Day by petitioning news editors to use person-first language and stop using the word "obese" when referring to people with obesity.

Join us in asking top print publications to update their guidelines to #deleteobese.

To the Editors

By shifting to person-first language we can begin to eliminate weight bias against the nearly 200 million Americans living with overweight and obesity.

Let’s Talk About the Word Obese

Join us for a virtual event on Thursday, March 10 with Calibrate Founder & CEO Isabelle Kenyon and Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford on the importance of language and its impact on how we treat obesity.

Thank you to the experts who share our mission

Anthony G. Comuzzle, PhD, FTOS

CEO, The Obesity Society

Joseph Nadglowski, Jr

President and CEO, Obesity Action Coalition

John P. Kirwan, MsC, PhD, FACSM

Chair, George A. Bray, Jr. Endowed Super Chair in Nutrition Pennington Biomedical Research Center

William H. Dietz, MD, PhD

Chair, Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness

Donna Ryan, MD

Calibrate Clinical Advisor, President Emerita of the World Obesity Federation,Associate Editor-in-Chief of Obesity

Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, MBA

Calibrate Clinical Advisor, Obesity medicine and nutrition physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Randy Seely, MD

Calibrate Clinical Advisor, Henry King Ransom Endowed Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine Director of the NIH-funded Michigan Nutrition Obesity Research Center

Jamy Ard, MD

Calibrate Clinical Advisor, Co-Director of the Wake Forest Baptist Health Weight Management Center, and an investigator for various US National Institutes of Health-sponsored studies

Adam Rosante

Calibrate Exercise Expert

Stephanie Middleberg RD, MS, CDN

Calibrate Food Expert

Emily Fletcher

Calibrate Sleep and Emotional Health Expert

Ellen Vora, MD

Calibrate Sleep and Emotional Health Expert

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*According to, in 2021 there were over 40,000 instances of news stories in the United States using the adjective "obese" in reference to people."