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Calling someone 'fatty' a hate crime, say UK MPs

British MPs have suggested that calling someone "fatty" or "obese" should be considered a hate crime on a par with racism or homophobia.

Generations of children have traded banter about body weight in the schoolyard and Enid Blyton even named one of her characters "Fatty" in her 'Five Find-Outers' series.

Under the Equalities Act 2010, it is illegal to harass, victimise or discriminate against anyone on the basis of a number of "protected" characteristics, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability.

A parliamentary group, supported by the charity Central YMCA, yesterday published a report, 'Reflections on Body Image', recommending "a review into the scale of the problem of appearance-based discrimination and how this would be best tackled".

It says: "This may include exploring whether an amendment to the Equalities Act would be the most appropriate way of tackling such discrimination."

Under the current act, people can be and are prosecuted for verbal abuse.

The report found one in five people had been victimised because of their weight, and that appearance was the major cause of bullying in schools.

Rosi Prescott, the chief executive of Central YMCA, questioned whether doctors should refrain from telling patients they were carrying excess pounds.

"If they don't feel overweight, and there are no health indications, what is the problem?" she said.

Almost two thirds of British adults are now either overweight or obese.

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Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, agreed with the concept of outlawing "size-discrimination", but said doctors must be able to tell patients, for their own good, if they are overweight.

"The problem arises if they don't know the medical consequences that result from their fatness. Doctors must be able to give them 'tough love'." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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