Should obesity be classed as a disability?

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Should obesity be classed as a disability?

The_Subsidised_MineownerSome people think it should. I’m not sure that I agree.

I was once on a plane – in one of those rows with three seats – ┬ácompletely squished between two men who were decidedly overweight. It was quite an uncomfortable flight.

‘Why’ I wondered ‘don’t these people have to pay extra?’ After all, we have to pay if our suitcases weigh too much. (I since heard that some airlines are considering it for very huge people).

In December 2014, an overweight childminder in Denmark was dismissed from his job. He claimed it was because of his weight – about 360 pounds.

I can’t imagine that a childminder would be able to play properly with children, clean them up, tie their shoelaces, run after them to save them from danger and so on if he was so overweight. (It’s probably just me, but I also don’t think that a very overweight person is a good role model for children).

I know that a lot of people struggle with their weight but should society make special allowances for heavy people? Should they be classed as disabled?

If their weight is due to a medical disorder then maybe, but otherwise?

Conversely, for those of who work quite hard to remain slim, should obese people enjoy privileges we don’t?

It transpires that in countries that are part of the European Union, they do not legally allow ‘prejudice’ against the obese. Employers are required to provide them with larger chairs, for example, if required. They are also obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for their obese staff and prevent any harassment.

Like any sensible person, I’m all for human rights, and obese people have rights as we all do, but I’m not convinced that they need special treatment at work. Oh,and the law extends to public places such as restaurants, cinemas and stores.

Medical conditions aside, most people who are overweight don’t eat correctly.My ┬ábrother and my sister weigh too much, as did my mother, and I’ve seen the amount of food – high-fat, high-calorie food – that they can put away.

If governments and the powers-that-be want to help overweight people, aren’t there better ways? Couldn’t they be eligible for discounted healthy foods, nutritional advice, exercise classes or even one-to-one therapy? Wouldn’t solving the problem- and thus creating a healthier population- be better than simply making allowances?


See what JAQUO writer Merry Citarella says about the obesity issue.




Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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1 Comment

  1. Whilst obesity can be a by-product of some illnesses and thyroid conditions, in itself it should not be treated as a disability. For most people, the main cause of being overweight and obese is an unequal balance between food or drink consumption and exercise, with the former offering more delights than the latter. I am constantly struggling with my weight, and am often (including right now) over the normal line into the overweight spectrum. But this is because I like an alcoholic drink or two, and if I start jogging I will probably keel over with a heart attack, or this is my excuse. So my intemperance is only a disability of the moral fibre (lack of) variety.

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