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Would YOU tell a friend they need to lose weight? Mother assures size 20 friend she is ‘not obese’

Would YOU tell a friend they need to lose weight? Mother divides opinion after reassuring her size 20 pal she ‘looks perfectly fine’ – because her husband called her a ‘fatty’

  • British Mumsnet user assured her size 20 friend that she is ‘not at all overweight’
  • Comforted her friend because of comments her husband made about her size
  • Said she hadn’t admitted the truth because she was worried about offending her
  • Other users were split over comments, with some saying she should be honest   

A mother has divided opinion over whether it is appropriate to tell a friend they need to lose weight.  

Writing anonymously on Mumsnet, the woman – believed to be from the UK – explained how her size 20 friend had sought comfort after her husband teased her about her weight and called her an ‘official fatty’.

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She reassured the friend that her weight was fine but said she was aware it may not have been in her friend’s best interests for her long-term health.  

The woman’s post sparked a heat debate, with many people arguing she should’ve told her friend she does need to lose weight, while others said they would’ve responded in the same way. 

A British woman has divided the internet after revealing she lied to her a size 20 friend when asked for her opinion about her body size (file image)

Explaining the situation, the woman wrote: ‘A friend phoned me this evening in tears as her DH jokingly called her an “official fatty” after she came home from shopping. 

‘She had shown him her new size 20 jeans but forgot to cut the size tag off like she normally does. That’s when he said those awful words. She asked me outright if I thought she was fat.’

She continued: ‘For starters I don’t like the word fat as I think it’s insulting and degrading. She’s short and, to be honest, is overweight but there’s no way I could have said this because she sounded distraught. 

‘Instead I told her shes’s not at all overweight and looks perfectly fine. This seemed to reassure her which is good I guess, but it’s not strictly true or in her best health interests.’

The woman explained on Mumsnet that she was worried about offending her friend with the truth about how her weight impacts her health and appearance

The woman explained on Mumsnet that she was worried about offending her friend with the truth about how her weight impacts her health and appearance 

She went on to ask: ‘How would you have answered that question if caught on the hop?

‘I’m always worried about offending people even when I’ve known them years so I don’t think I could ever say to someone they’re overweight even if they asked me to answer the question honestly!’

A stream of responses blasted the woman for not being honest with her friend about the dangers of her size and how it could impact her health.

One person said: ‘I think you were in a difficult situation but no, I don’t think you did the right thing. I don’t see that she can really have believed you – no one at size 20 doesn’t realise that is a large size and she must be pretty overweight.  

A stream of responses to the post argued the woman should've been honest with her friend because lying wouldn't improve the situation

A stream of responses to the post argued the woman should’ve been honest with her friend because lying wouldn’t improve the situation 

‘It’s done now and probably not appropriate for you to raise it with her but I think you should decide that if a similar conversation arises in future you are more honest with her.’ 

‘I would have told her the truth. Yes, she is overweight. Lying to her isn’t helping anything, and she knows the truth as well. Her cutting off the tags on her clothing is her just living in denial.’

‘I would also have offered all the support she needs to get healthy. Being short and a size 20 is very, very overweight and quite dangerous for her future,’ another said.

A third added: ‘I don’t think you should tell her she’s not at all fat, if she is a size 20 and cutting labels off her clothes, I’m sure she’s well aware that she is overweight. 

‘You should be able to have honest conversations with your friends, but I’m sure she knows deep down that you were just trying to save her feelings.’ 

Meanwhile other users said that they would've also lied to their friend, agreeing it wasn't the right time for an honest discussion about tackling her weight

Meanwhile other users said that they would’ve also lied to their friend, agreeing it wasn’t the right time for an honest discussion about tackling her weight 

Others attempted to reassure the woman that she had made the right decision to not criticise her friend’s weight. 

One person said: ‘A little white lie in this context really doesn’t hurt in my opinion. Your friend probably realises she’s overweight really, it’s no one’s choice but hers how to handle that, so what would have been the point rubbing it in. 

‘Her husband’s comment would have hurt her and you wanted to say something kind, presumably. I personally think a white lie is justified in these circumstances.’

Another confessed she wouldn’t want to destroy a friend’s self-confidence by telling the truth, but suggested an honest conversation could take place at a time when they’re not upset.

She wrote: ‘YANBU. I would have done the same as you op, it wasn’t the time to be telling her the truth, it would have destroyed her self confidence.

‘Maybe come back to it with suggestions when she’s less upset and ready to listen to you.’


Obesity is defined as an adult having a BMI of 30 or over.

A healthy person’s BMI – calculated by dividing weight in kg by height in metres, and the answer by the height again – is between 18.5 and 24.9. 

Among children, obesity is defined as being in the 95th percentile.

Percentiles compare youngsters to others their same age. 

For example, if a three-month-old is in the 40th percentile for weight, that means that 40 per cent of three-month-olds weigh the same or less than that baby.

Around 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of men in the UK are overweight or obese. 

The condition costs the NHS around £6.1billion, out of its approximate £124.7 billion budget, every year.

This is due to obesity increasing a person’s risk of a number of life-threatening conditions.

Such conditions include type 2 diabetes, which can cause kidney disease, blindness and even limb amputations.

Research suggests that at least one in six hospital beds in the UK are taken up by a diabetes patient.

Obesity also raises the risk of heart disease, which kills 315,000 people every year in the UK – making it the number one cause of death.

Carrying dangerous amounts of weight has also been linked to 12 different cancers. 

This includes breast, which affects one in eight women at some point in their lives.

Among children, research suggests that 70 per cent of obese youngsters have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol, which puts them at risk of heart disease.

Obese children are also significantly more likely to become obese adults. 

And if children are overweight, their obesity in adulthood is often more severe.  

As many as one in five children start school in the UK being overweight or obese, which rises to one in three by the time they turn 10.