EU Rules Obesity Can Be A Disability
Wow, this decade is really shaping up to be a banner decade for fat rights. The decade got off to a great start in 2013 when the American Medical Association declared that obesity is a disease clearing the way for insurance companies and Medicare to pay for the very expensive “disease related” treatments like gastric stapling and gastric bands – a single act that will probably cause health care costs to rise in America faster than ever.
Now in 2014, in another banner decision for fat rights, the European Union Court decided that when it comes to employment, obesity can be considered a disability that must be accommodated just like being blind or being deaf must be accommodated. Bigger chairs, parking spots closer to doors, etc.
So one can see the writing on the wall now. This court decision of “obesity is a disability” was narrowly limited to workplace employment but its only a small leap before it is more widely applied. Schools that have to have larger seats and provide mobility carts for obese teens. Airlines who have to give free first class seats to obese people who cant fit in those skinny coach seats. So to get in that coveted first class cabin in the airplane all you have to do is eat a lot of pizza? Sign me up!
Quote from Clive Coleman, BBC’s legal correspondent:
“But there are wider implications. Providers of goods and services such as shops, cinemas and restaurants will also have to make reasonable adjustments for their customers, which might include things like special seating arrangements.”
I am afraid that in this “everyone is a winner” generation, we are heading down the wrong path. Coddling people isn’t always the best way to help them. Yes, I understand that fat people are limited in mobility which is kind of the dictionary definition of disability. The big difference in my mind is one of possibility. A blind person cannot see and there is currently nothing available to make them see – they are disabled. There is no medical procedure available at any cost that can replace the leg on a soldier who has had their leg blown off by an IED – they are disabled. Depression can be so bad, even with medication, that the person cannot function normally – they are disabled. In each of these cases so far, there is nothing that can reverse the condition that makes them disabled, in short, it is not a choice. But, but, but … I hear obese people saying “I did not choose to be fat”. No, nobody makes the choice to be fat but they do choose to have coke instead of water with lunch. They do choose to have potato chips as a snack rather than carrots. They do choose to have cake instead of a bowl of fruit for desert. There is no one decision to become obese. Becoming obese is the cumulation of thousands of small, seemingly insignificant bad nutritional decisions that add up to obesity.
The human body does not defy the laws of physics. This isn’t an alternate universe on Star Trek where all physical laws work in reverse. Body weight is an energy balance calculation. If more energy flows into the mouth than is burned off then fat is gained. Regardless of someones metabolic rate, if the person consumes less calories than they burn off they will lose weight – period.
The sad thing about all this is that all this coddling and telling obese people not to worry “because its not their fault” isn’t help them, its hurting them. There are a lot of dangerous side effects of gastric bypass operations, offering this easy out is cruel in my opinion. Making workplace accommodations is also cruel because it just prolongs the suffering. What do I think should be done? Take ALL that money that we are using for obesity related diseases and the money we will be spending on workplace accommodations and put it toward something that will REALLY help obese people and be part of a long term solution. Take all that money and put it into nutritional and fitness training for the obese. Give them a month off from work to go to an intensive fitness and nutritional education program. Give them classes in nutrition. Give them classes in appropriate exercise. Have them work one on one with a nutritional coach who will help them make meal plans, will actually shop with them at the store, and show them how to cook quick healthy meals for themselves and their families. Show them how to batch cook and freeze meal sized portions. Starts them on a home fitness program. Show them how to incorporate movement into everyday life like parking in the parking spot furthest from the stores main entrance rather than the parking spot closest. Yes a month off from work to go to “fat school” would be incredibly expensive, but not nearly as expensive as the obesity related medical costs or the costs of accommodating obesity in the workplace, at schools, and everywhere else. For a fraction of the price of all these band-aid solutions, this could provide a real solution that is not only cheaper for society but infinitely better for the obese person as well.