Campus Reform | Doctors now cannot say 'morbidly obese'

Doctors now cannot say 'morbidly obese'

The terms ‘handicapped,’ ‘morbidly obese,’ and ‘racial groups,’ are to be avoided, according to the American Medical Association.

Numerous language guides have come out in recent years after American universities started publishing similar documents.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) have jointly published a language guide that tells readers to no longer use the words “handicapped,” “morbidly obese,” or “homeless.”

Rather, the document, “Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts,” stipulates that these terms should be referred to as “people who are experiencing (condition or disability type).” 

For years, Campus Reform has reported on language guides in higher education, from the University of New Hampshire’s ‘Bias Free’ guide in 2015 to Florida International University’s 2021 ‘Inclusive Language’ recommendations.

Professional institutions began creating their own versions only a few years later. For example, in September, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a “non-stigmatizing language guide.”

That CDC guide suggests replacing “smokers” with “people who smoke” and “alcoholics” with “persons with alcohol use disorder.” Similar to the AMA’s guide, they recommend swapping “homeless people” for “people experiencing homelessness” or “persons who are not securely housed.”

[RELATED: American Medical Association declares racism a ‘public health threat’]

Likewise, AMA’s “Advancing Health Equity” provides an “[e]quity-focused alternative” for commonly used terminology. Physicians and medical students are told to capitalize “Black” and use the lowercase term “white” instead of Caucasian. 

Additionally, the AMA argues that “social justice” is the appropriate alternative for “fairness.” 

“Fairness is a hope for an outcome,” the guide states. “In the legal system, one could say that each side in a trial having a lawyer to represent them is fair. But the justice system may favor the wealthy over the poor.”

The AMA’s guide is directed at medical and healthcare workers, a field undergoing politically correct reconstructive surgery for the first time. 

“The dominant narratives in American medicine and society reflect the values and interests of the historically more privileged socioeconomic groups—white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgendered, male, wealthy, English-speaking, Christian, U.S.-born,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. said in an Oct. 28 statement. 

[RELATED: UPDATE: Second resignation this year at prestigious medical journal after editor questions woke anti-racist narratives]

The AAMC represents medical schools, teaching hospitals, and academic and scientific societies, including some of the nation’s top institutions including the Harvard and Duke Medical Schools.

“Words matter. They matter because they have the power to perpetuate or to dismantle structural racism, to empower a person or to marginalize them, to reinforce a harmful traditional narrative or to provide an alternative one,” said Philip Alberti, PhD, founding director of the AAMC Center for Health Justice in a public statement from Oct. 28. 

Alberti also referenced previous AAMC diversity and inclusion efforts, including a 2020 anti-racism framework

In a similar salute to higher education’s political and social standards, the American Psychological Association (APA) publicly apologized to people of color. The APA’s public apology admits their failures, including being, “complicit in contributing to systemic inequities,” and hurting “many through racism, racial discrimination, and denigration of people of color.” 

“For the first time, APA and American psychology are systematically and intentionally examining, acknowledging and charting a path forward to address their roles in perpetuating racism,” announced President Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD last month.

Campus Reform reached out to the AMA, AAMC, and APA, however, all organizations declined to make a comment or referred to its public statements. Every individual mentioned was contacted for comment, this article will be updated accordingly.