Battle of the Bulge

Is it okay to tell your friend to lose weight?

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Comments (42)

(34) Debbie, June 5, 2015 12:19 PM

sensitive issue

Back in the early 2000''s a quit smoking commercial came out that basically showed one person saying to another " Do you love me, do you love me enough to quit smoking?" My mom was a smoker and had been for years at the time and she said "I wish someone loved me enough to ask me that question." A week later I asked her and SHE QUIT-cold turkey just quit-she was 81. Maybe the key is asking in love! The other key is timing. Ask G-d to guide you when and how to ask and remember LOVE.

(33) Anonymous, January 26, 2014 8:23 PM

No! We need to keep our mouths shut tight when it comes to this issue. Yes, there is an obesity problem in this country. However, the issue of weight loss is between the individual and his/her physician. If the individual wants to talk to me about this challenge, I am here to listen without judgment. FWIW--I have been struggling with my own weight loss issues for nearly a decade, and would be greatly offended if someone told me to lose weight. I am working at getting to a healthy weight, and I know I will get there with patience and persistence. The busy bodies in our midst need to mind their own business!!

(32) D.Gold, December 24, 2013 1:46 PM

Don't do it.....

I have to agree with CD Urbach. Nothing you say to someone overweight is going to change or inspire them. It will only strain your relationship and maybe end it. The Torah also commands that we Treat others as we wish to be treated. As CD says, overweight people know it. You might inspire them or anger them to do something in the short term but as the anger subsides, we'll all go back to our bad habits. The Dali Lama went into a pizza place and said, "Make me one with Everything". When he asked the cashier for change, the cashier responded, "Change must come from within."

By the way, Anonymous, the Rabbi didn't advocate us hurting another Jew, he asked our opinion for great discussion.

(31) Sharon, September 5, 2013 6:22 PM


I am short and have had a weight problem all my life.4"11, 212pd. Prayed, fasted all food for a straight 30 days. And still fat. I'm soon to be 55 years old. So came to the realization I'm not going to loose this weight. This is who I am.

(30) C.D.Urbach, January 27, 2013 4:05 AM

Everyone Owns Mirrors

Telling someone to lose weight is like pointing out the size of their nose or shape of their ears. Trust me, they KNOW. And if they aren't aware of the health risks connected to weight IN 2013, they are living with their heads in the sand,and will ignore you anyway. And last but not least, ask any overweight person what they would do if someone reminded them about their weight....they would probably go and EAT!(I am not saying it's practical -- just likely) A rabbi once MADE AN APPOINTMENT with someone I know JUST TO LET THEM KNOW THEY WERE GAINING WEIGHT. She was so mad, she went home and ATE!

(29) miry, December 30, 2012 2:44 PM

losing weight

I don't think that I would mention this to a freind, she knows that she has to lose weight . For some it's a lifetime struggle and they are very self concious about it I think that by telling your freind "you have to lose weight " It's like youre adding fuel to the fire. Every person wants to be accepted how she is looks , personality... If she would mention that she wants to go to a support group or to a diet group I would defiinetly encourage her and push her to join

(28) Anonymous, December 25, 2012 4:10 PM

I am short. No on needs to tell me this as I know that. Same with someone who needs to lose weight - they know.

(27) Anonymous, December 23, 2012 6:23 AM

should you tell a an overweight friend

I can't believe that you would advocate causing pain to a fellow jew , if your friend is overweight believe me he/she knows about it and any comment that a person makes , especially on that he hasn't seen for a long time, will create discomfort. Being overwight is a very personal issue and should not be commented on unless the person intiates the conversation. we are commanded to love our fellow jew as we love ourselves , if you had some obvious physical imperfection you would not want to have people keep pointing it out to you.

(26) Alan S., December 21, 2012 10:04 AM

What makes anyone feel that they can make unsolicited comments about another's appearance? You don't want to shake someone's hand because you see boils and open oozing lesions on their skin? Fine, don't shake their hand and explain yourself if asked. But, are you worried that a friend will die early because of the possiblity of a heart attack, due to their obesity and dying early will leave you sad and friendless? Mind your own business. I can "play this game" all day, because that is really all it is, just a game of picking on other's obvious physical appearances. When will people realize that there are no perfect souls or bodies. Everyone strives to be the best that they can be, given their nature and nuture. All people can easily point out the flaws in everyone else, but why do this? We don't live in country where every person collectively 'lovingly' points out other peoples flaws. In America, for all of it's problems, and there are way too many, we mind our own business when it comes to unsolicited comments.

(25) Brian Bergman, December 20, 2012 2:03 PM

Be A Light unto the Nations...

If I had a friend who's health was suffering and/or they were constantly complaining about their weight, I believe that I would have the obligation to be a positive role model in presenting encouragement, motivation, and opportunities to battled the bulge. Scientifically, we know it is unhealthy so we are not "presuming" to know what is best for another person. We could offer to join a gym with that person as a workout partner. We could offer to go on walks or ride bikes together. We could talk about making better food choices. The bottom line is that friends don't let friends drive drunk and we shouldn't allow friends to feel alone in their struggle. The best way to tell someone is to show empathy. Perhaps we are struggling with weight gain or have successfully changed our lifestyle and dropped the pounds. If this "friend" takes offense at your presumed intrusion into their state of health, are they really a friend or a number on your FB page? That, my friends, is the true difference. Friends, not superficial conversation partners!

(24) sharona, December 19, 2012 1:45 PM

Chana, that's amazing

Chana, it is truly inspiring to read your story. I was wondering how using self cognitive behavioral training works. Also where can one get more information on that? i

(23) Anonymous, December 19, 2012 4:14 AM

don't say anything

the overweight person is aware of the problem...your input could just drive your friend to the next box of donuts!

LADYDI, December 20, 2012 3:34 PM


(22) Gabriel, December 19, 2012 3:03 AM

Singled Out

Telling someone straight up to lose weight is offensive and mean. However, saying "hey so-and-so, lets get a gym membership together and get in shape" or "let's go jogging every other day" is a more appropriate approach. As a teenager, I was overweight, I did know it. My parents saw this and got a family gym membership so we all could work out together, eliminating the possibility of making me feel like the only one who needs it.

(21) Joanne, December 19, 2012 3:03 AM

We know we are fat

So many Americans are overweight or 'morbidly obese' -- which is even more dire than being merely overweight. We know who we are. We have tried many diets, we have tried exercise. Personally, I have had a diet coach, I have been on Weight Watchers. I did lose weight -- about 20 lbs. But as I anytam a woman 'of a certain age' my metabolism doesn't cooperate, and I know there are emotional reasons why I can't cut the calories down enough. A year ago, when I battled breast cancer, I lost about 15 more lbs, because the chemo suppressed my appetite. I have since gained most of that back. i am very aware. I do exercise and eat very healthy foods -- fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat milk. There is no good way for a friend to tell a friend s/he needs to lose weight. Even a doctor who can link it to health issues -- high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes has to walk on eggshells. It is up to the individual to take responsibility.

(20) carla, December 19, 2012 1:35 AM

let the other person talk first

I know people that have no problem discussing their weight issues but I think it's best to let that person be the first to talk about it. That opens a door to express concern and possibly give some advice.

Jonathan Abolins, December 19, 2012 6:01 PM

Telling/rebuking but then what? Issues of support.

One can tell, even rebuke, an overweight person and perceive that to be sufficient. But is it? Are we looking at the physical trait or behaviours? Obesity is not a matter where a person changes behaviour and the person is normal weight. If we look at the physical traits, we might encourage measures -- gastric bypass, liposuction, etc. -- that don't address behaviours per se and may introduce other problems in some. People who've never struggled with weight often assume it is a matter of will-power alone and that the only reason a person is overweight is that they lack discipline. Often, they miss the combination of factors. (Including the irony of present day food supply and choices that hit a human biology designed to survive famines. Most of our ancestors were thin because they often went through deprivation and physically hard work.) Many overweight people know they a problem, they're drowning in it. But do we tell a drowning person, "You need discipline. Inhale less water. Exercise! Swim!" Some comments have already suggested helps. Good. Also, are you going to be there to encourage and keep the person going? Or should one keep telling rebuking until the physical goals are reached? Might work with some but wreck many others (or they simply avoid the person).

(19) Chana, December 19, 2012 12:36 AM

Personally, I don’t think it would be appropriate. Would you tell an unattractive individual that they physically unappealing and suggest cosmetic surgery ? Would you tell someone of obviously lower intelligence that they are stupid ? No, of course not… to do so would be rude and it would be hurtful. But many seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to make comment on a person’s obesity…they seem to feel that it is their duty to bring it to their attention because “it is in their best interest”. I am 5’8” and I weighed in excess of 350 pounds. I had a mirror, I knew I was fat. I am intelligent and I am well read, I was fully aware of the adverse effects of obesity. My size was not my choice; I went to weight loss specialists, tried every possible diet , and every miracle diet aid. Still family, friends, and strangers thought it necessary to point out the dangers excess weight could have on my health, and every time they did, their comments hurt and made me feel less than adequate as a person. And later, when I was alone, I would cry and comfort myself with food…which of course, only compounded my weight problem. So, those well meaning comments were more detrimental than helpful. By the way, I have since lost in excess of 220 pounds using self cognitive behavioral training and my own weight loss program. Although I was fortunate enough to lose my weight, I will never presume to know what is best for someone else and make anyone feel uncomfortable or inferior by mentioning their weight issue. If you really want to help your obese friends, compliment their positive attributes, remind them that they are special, and thank them for being such an important part of your life. When you start focusing on the most beautiful aspects of your friends, you may not even notice their extra weight. Jus’ one woman’s opinion : )

abigail, December 19, 2012 4:20 PM

wow! good for you!

wow! good for you!

(18) abe shainberg, December 18, 2012 10:58 PM

It depends on how close you are to that "friend". Will he/she listen to you or take umbrage? I've told many friends that needed to diet that I first was way too overweight and this is what worked for me when it did. Positive advice that was doable for them. I always put myself and MY problem at the forefront. Very few took it badly because I cared and it came out caring. They and I still need to work off a lifetime of Chulent & Kugel. New category - Brochos that help put on weight.

(17) Suzanane, December 18, 2012 9:53 PM

I don't say anything.....

.....usually it's because the overweight person is painfully aware of it and, I perceive that if I say anything, I'd hurt their feelings further. A lot of times, overweight people bring up the subject themselves. If it's someone close to me, I will usually try to offer them a little advise about making time for themselves to walk a few miles every day which can make a big difference in their overall health. That's all.

(16) Anonymous, December 18, 2012 8:20 PM

The Torah Commands us....

BS'D. The Torah commands us to avoid embarrassing another- this is tantamount to emotional murder. It also commands us to avoid haughty behavior and other negative character traits. We all have our pet peeves, but we elevate ourselves to restraint. For instance, one of my annoyances are narcissistic personalities, arrogance, and other Axis II traits. But I don't point them out. Criticism if it is constructive must be made with the utmost of love and care so as to minimize the harm. I would think in the case of weight that it is the physicians place to mention this or a loving spouse and then to work out an action plan. Obese people know they are obese. They are seriously depressed about it and are generally well versed in various diets. The problem is very often an underlying emotional problem or a medical problem. No one wants to be overweight and everyone would be harmed, ashamed, and embarrassed by your comment. I would recommend instead to "be" a friend, listen to what is going on with them, ask them to join you in a walk, listen while you walk. First, do no harm. Second, gather information, third, find a way to help. Don't just flap your jaw, that only serves you.

(15) chava, December 18, 2012 7:40 PM

If you say anything to me, I'll just avoid you in the future.

No, you shouldn't say anything about weight to your friend. He or she knows he's fat. If you've recently lost weight, the friend may ask you how you did it, & you can then talk about it. Some people like to diet with a partner, & that might be a way to work together on weight issues. But, in general, just accept your friend as he or she is. You probably don't know what's going on inside, & you're best off just being a friend. All this talk about losing weight makes some people hate their body or themselves. And other people develop life-threatening eating disorders to avoid being fat. My granddaughter has become anorexic, probably for lots of reasons, but it doesn't help to be surrounded by people worrying about being fat.

(14) Yisroel (Jerry) Gross, December 18, 2012 7:08 PM

He saw I was OBESE and SAVED my life. my Hatzoloh

About 9 years ago a man named Tzvi Goldberg came over to me in Shul and said he was a volunteer for a charity program and would like to talk to me privately and asked me for my number. We met in my office and then he shocked me to death. He said he was not going to ask me for a donation. He said his charity program helps people lose weight but doesn’t charge for it and he was there to HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT. I didn’t know whether to hug him or sit on him? He pulled out a scale and tape measure asked politely if he could weigh and measure me. My measurements were 253lb. & a 48in waist (OBESE). He presented a simple plan and said he would follow up with an email once a week. What he didn’t know was that I was taken away by ambulance 6 months prior (after a heavy Shabbos meal) and was told “to lose weight or else!”. To make a long story short it was his act of kindness that changed my life forever. I lost 50 pounds over the next 6 months and never put it back. To read my entire story go to "Who is Jerry Gross" . As one who was obese I would definitely encourage people to bring up this delicate topic with their friends and family. Of course this should be done with kindness and consideration. I told Tzvi I can’t pay you back but I can pay you forward, so now it is my mission to help others just as he helped me and I do approach others as he did to me. I can be reached at More importantly: when you serve food to your guests we should have these overindulging people in mind and not go overboard with the shmorgas board. Especially when we make parties ie. Shabbos meals, kiddushim, bar mitzvahs, weddings etc. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND 66% OF YOUR GUESTS WILL BE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE! My question is why didn't any of my family (besides my mother), friends, & Rabbi say anything to me? Why was it a stranger ? Better to be proactive than reactive.

Alan S., December 21, 2012 9:45 AM

Read comments 15 & 16

I am sure that this comment will provoke some dissimilar responses. And while I don't mean to sound like a naysayer, I found this interesting and well meaning comment a bit disturbing. Mr. Gross, 6 months earlier you state that an ambulance took you away. Was it really only Mr. Goldberg's charity program that finally caused you to lose weight? I hate to say it, but Mr. Goldberg essentially scanned the room and decided to offer his (type of) charity program to you, and perhaps others, based upon a supposed defect in your physical appearance. While being overweight cold be considered a defect in your physical appearance, would he go over to someone suffering with, say, severe acne and offer his skin clearing blemishes? I hope not. I find this type of activity to be offensive. Thank goodness you didn't. Overweight people know they are fat. No one need tell an overweight person that they are overweight. Sorry, but Mr. Goldberg is no better in his 'zeal' than a Christian missionary who also wants to save your soul and body. Read comments 15 and 16 for a sense of humility in this topic. Finally, to answer your last question: a stranger could make this comment to you because the worse thing you might tell him is "get out of my office". The stranger has no 'dog in this race'. How would you consistently avoid your family, friends or Rabbi who might make this comment to you?

(13) Susan, December 18, 2012 6:30 PM

Other issues that cause obesity

Tread lightly. I had a friend that constantly "nudged" me about my weight. She is a nurse. She knew of my thyroid problem. She knew the other medication I was on caused obesity. but she still would say "You are what you eat" I ate 10 times healthier than she did ans she was very thin. I really watch. I have a nutritionist. I have holistic Doctor that I work with and I also found out that my body (liver) has lost its ability to break down fat... Her words hurt and I ignorantly let it go. I will never judge a person for being obese, Just because they are does not mean they are by their own choice of bad diet. I am working on it. I will not stop, but it is very tiring sometimes...

(12) Anonymous, December 18, 2012 6:26 PM

Likened to killing

Torah tells us to embarrass like that is like killing. Forbidden. Prob'ly person knows. You might be impeding them with setting will against even. Person knows most likely n is attempting even if unsuccessful. Instead common desire talking might allow for ideas that can actually be saying, "recently I learnt how I had been slowly increasing what I thought to be normal portion size meals, over the decades!".

(11) Marlene, December 18, 2012 5:24 PM

Keepyour mouth shut.

People who are heavy or even obese know that they are. Of course, it shows on the outside so they do know it. THerefore, they do not need you to tell them. If a friend looks like something might be wrong on the inside, like they are jaundiced or something and they might not realize it, then you make a tender comment. Not when it is something you are sure they already know. Yes, I am overweight and I weighed 118 lbs when I got married 54 years ago. I resent it when someone tells me I need to lose weight. THey might or might not mean well, but I do realize it.

(10) Cynthia Cohen, M.D., December 18, 2012 2:58 PM

More complex issues

Weight may be an external manifestation of another issue in their lives that remains unaddressed so that the issue becomes complex. The approach may be to connect to the person to address a more general issue or how they are doing in terms of their life with an understanding and expression of concern that their weight may reflect an issue. Yes, an appropriate nutrition and health education piece might be helpful for some people, but most people know what they need to do but have other challenges they are dealing with.

(9) Anonymous, December 17, 2012 1:31 PM

No you should not tell a friend that he/she needs to lose weight. People who are overweight know they are. They are struggling with it and if they could be slimmer they would. Having someone tell them hurts and it will 9 out of 10 do more harm than good; it will hurt the person's feelings.

Anonymous, December 18, 2012 6:44 PM

I agree

I know I'm overweight. I've battled it almost all my life. Sometimes a diet works for a while, but mostly I still have a problem. I know very well what I look like and it truly would hurt me to have friends approach me and remind me. I always hope that I can lick the problem, but want my friends to love me no matter the problem.

(8) Shaul Pillai, December 17, 2012 8:56 AM

Tell Them They Are Important In Our Life

I think it’s very difficult to tell someone that they are overweight. Sometimes it’s not even necessary to tell them because they know they are overweight. However I agree that we need to look out for our friends and ourselves and the Torah injunction to look after ourselves and lead a healthy life should not be taken lightly. I believe we need to tell our friends how important they are in our lives and that seeing them overweight saddens us. Perhaps we can join them and together do activities and change habits that contribute to gaining weight. Sharing the experience may help strengthen the bonds of friendship.

(7) Anonymous, December 17, 2012 6:38 AM


One thing is not to be an enabler or codependent . They have to attack the problem themselves. I did hear that a doctors words can sometimes impact the patient. A good support system like Overeaters Anonymous is supposed to have some success. They deal with the whys the person is overeating, and take a healthy approach, not just a calories approach. Counseling may help as well. Seeking out a dietician on a regular basis to motivate and coach can help. Baby steps are the most successful long term. Diet pills are unhealthy and can have very bad consequences. Small gradual changes like switching from sugar to xylitol and gradually incorporating more like a BT assists long term. A personal trainer or exercise classes will keep one motivated.You can't change a person... Only tell them how their behavior effects you. Good luck.

(6) lisa, December 17, 2012 3:00 AM

Mirror, mirror on the wall.................

Yes.I should have told my very good friend how obese she was & how awful she looked.... especially since her daughters wedding was 5 months away. I know thru our many conversations that she obviously knew this info. What to do? Well I did nothing........I think we all know our flaws & one day, whether its from a friend or our own "aha" moment ,that we will deal with our flaws.

Chana, December 19, 2012 12:48 AM

Seriously ?

Lisa, seriously ? You honestly feel that it would be appropriate to tell YOUR VERY GOOD FRIEND "how obese she was & how awful she looked.... especially since her daughters wedding was 5 months away" ??? Was your concern really for your friend's health ??? Or was your concern that your very good friend's appearance would be an embarrassment to some attendees at her daughter's wedding ?

(5) Yossi Scheinberg, December 17, 2012 2:23 AM

Lead by Example

The problem isn't weight it's food. Why we eat what we eat. Why we're so attached to the unhealthy eating habits in this country (U.S.). Solve the Eating issues and the weight will subside. The first step is food education. Unless we realize for example, that high fructose corn syrup isn't anything like good old Sugar and it's affects on the body are devastating, we're just burying our head in the sand. Next, Lead by Example. Be the first to lead the way...and mentor others. Trust me, the friend that is overweight KNOWS, he's overweight. I always say...Not all people who drink diet soda are fat, but show me a fat person that doesn't drink diet soda.

Anonymous, December 18, 2012 7:32 PM

I'm fat & I don't drink diet soda.

Actually, I don't drink any soda. I've read that diet soda actually stimulates your appetite, & you end up gaining weight if you drink it.

(4) Chaya, December 17, 2012 2:12 AM

it depends on your own weight

if you yourself need to lose weight and can't seem to do it, you really are not in a good position to tell someone they need to do something you yourself have been unable to do. If however, you have worked on losing weight and have found a way to improve your own health, you can empathize with your friend's struggle because you went through the same hardship and you can offer your own successful solutions to lose weight.

Anonymous, December 18, 2012 6:24 PM

not necessarily

As someone who is overweight currently, though I've had a couple of major weight loss successes in OA, I feel that if someone approached me who was also overweight, I'd feel like I have a partner to share the challenge with. Perhaps we could encourage each other to meet to exercise or share recipe ideas, etc.. I think sharing a common problem makes one feel like they are not alone in their struggle.

(3) Ann, December 17, 2012 1:48 AM

Whenever you talk to a person about their weight, you risk offending them. It is not easy to lose weight. They might have gained weight from stress, working nights, working overtime, not have access to healthy food etc.. Only bring it up if you are close enough to the person and tactful enough not to offend him.

(2) Chavi, December 16, 2012 8:49 PM

Do you, for one minute, think that your overweight friend doesn't already know everything that you will tell him/her? Do you think that your friend does not own a mirror? What exactly is your point? I can't think of a better way to ruin a friendship! Why are you judging him/her instead of just accepting your friend as s/he is? Leave it to your friend's doctor to call him/her on it.

(1) Anonymous, December 16, 2012 6:32 PM

boy, is this difficult!

I can definitely relate to this question. my father is a great man in so many areas, yet, he has one big problem: he is addicted to food. nothing anyone can say to him can make him lose weight; the desire has to come from within; but the question is, how? what would push him to start exercising and eating healthy if he's tried hundreds of diets and has always failed? do you know how discouraging that is? he tends to get upset or offended if anyone says anything to him, but people who love him are scared for his life. is there anything that we could possibly say that could help him turn his life around? please help!


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