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Not calling people fat is ‘inherently fatphobic’ argues UVA lecturer: ‘not a negative descriptor’

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University of Virginia (UVA) students were told that refraining from using the word “fat” is “inherently fatphobic” and weight “rarely has to do” with personal choices, according to audio obtained by Campus Reform.

Students attending UVA’s Exercise and Nutrition Medicine course on Feb. 27 sat in for a “Diet culture and Weight Stigma” lesson hosted by guest lecturer and data analyst Stephanie Brennhofer.

During the lecture, Brennhofer said “the word ‘fat’ is actually inherently fatphobic” because it “signals to fat people and really everybody, that [fatness] is bad” and “thin is good.”

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Stephanie Brennhofer is a senior data analyst in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health at the University of Virginia. 

Stephanie Brennhofer is a senior data analyst in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health at the University of Virginia.  (Stephanie Brennhofer/ResearchGate)

“All ‘fat’ does is describe somebody’s body shape and it’s not a negative descriptor,” she added.

Brennhofer also claimed that the body positivity movement has attempted to reclaim the words and it is “generally preferred” over terms like “overweight” and “obese,” which carry medical connotations.

She ended her presentation with a “call to action,” urging students to stop labeling food as “good and bad” and to cease “medicalizing” a person’s body through specific terms.

Brennhofer then outlined certain “myths” about weight and health.

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An image of an overweight boy consulting with doctor in her office. 

An image of an overweight boy consulting with doctor in her office.  (iStock)

“You know, this whole idea that weight is mainly, biological right? There’s nothing really that we can do that’s going to change our weight,” she said. “Our body is just kind of at this point based on genetic factors. I mean, other things do play a role, but it’s mainly genetics.”

When asked by a student how she would respond to a person asking how to lose weight, Brennhofer, in her opinion, said it was “unethical” to tell someone how to get thinner because the patient will not be able to do it long-term.

“So, I feel like I’m actually doing you a disservice and worsening your health by telling you what to do to lose weight because I know you’re not going to be able to do it long-term.”

Speaking on doctor’s office visits, Brennhofer revealed that she refuses to be weighed when visiting her primary care physician and said such a practice is unnecessary.

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“I actually think it’s super liberating to feel like I’m not responsible for my weight,” Brennhofer added. “I actually find that to be kind of a cool thing … It’s not a failure of my own or anything, it just is what it is, and I feel like that should be a good thing.”

The CDC reported that the percentage of obese Americans shifted up to 41.9% in 2020 from 30.5% in 2017.

Statistics from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health indicate 43 million preschool-aged children were obese in 2010 worldwide and the numbers have been on a steady incline since the 1990s.

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The University of Virginia did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

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