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Christmas health advice: Tell loved ones they're fat

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"Speaking of Butterball, let's face it, Mom and Dad: You're fat."

How well would your family members respond this Christmas to some home truths about their chubbiness?

According to the BBC, health experts consider the holiday season the perfect time to tell loved ones they need to lose weight. And they emphasize it's important to not beat around the bush because of the risks of serious health problems, including diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

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"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," David Haslam, chair of the National Obesity Forum, told the British broadcaster.

Candid phrasing is apparently critical if you want to make sure you get your point across. Earlier this year, England's public health minister Anne Milton told the BBC that doctors and other health professionals should tell people that they're "fat" rather than "obese," suggesting the former is more likely to provoke them into taking "personal responsibility" for their lifestyle and lose weight.

The straight-shooting approach reportedly worked for actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who is credited for giving her friend, television comic Ross Mathews, the push he needed to overhaul his diet and start exercising.

"She pointed at my tummy and said, 'What's going on here? I love you. Get it together,'" Mr. Mathews told People magazine this summer.

Ms. Paltrow's tough love encouraged him to reduce his weight to 180 pounds from 220 pounds, and sign up to be a Jenny Craig spokesman.

But obviously, Mr. Mathews had been well aware of the extra pounds he was carrying, as he acknowledged his weight had been a "shameful issue" for him.

So for those who are already feeling lousy about the extra inches around their bellies, there is a risk your well-intended declaration of their weight issues could push them into a deeper funk – not to mention turn Christmas dinner into a rather uncomfortable affair.

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Do you think pointing out your loved ones' flab would motivate them, or simply make them feel bad?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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