Although he gave good reasons why obesity should not be considered a disease, he favored retaining the disease label because it would help reduce the stigma attached to obesity and build public support for programs to conquer obesity. I am not sure about that.
Back in December, the BBC reported that the European Court of Justice heard the case of a 352 lb Danish childcare worker who was fired from his job because he couldn't bend down to tie children's shoelaces. He denied the allegation.
The European Court "ruled that if the obesity of the worker 'hinders the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers,' then obesity can fall within the concept of 'disability.'" Danish courts need to hear the case and decide if the worker is truly disabled. The ruling affects all other countries in the European Union.
The Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune commented on the issue in a piece entitled "the dangers of treating obesity as a disability." It mentioned a Texas case in which a court said a company that dismissed a 600 lb materials handler could not do so because they had not tried to "find ways to help him perform his duties."
The Tribune article pointed out that one-third of Americans are obese with 15 million (7% of the population) classified as morbidly obese. The board felt that this was a potentially very costly expansion of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which they say was intended to help those who were disabled not by individual decisions, but rather were "victims of fate." It did not address the fact that many are disabled from smoking-related emphysema. Are they victims of fate or poor choices?
A recent editorial [full-text here] in the American Journal of Medicine took it up another notch. The author, Dr. Robert M. Doroghazi blamed obesity on eating more calories than one burns—a hypothesis held by many. Regarding the war on obesity, he said, "We will not make progress until we tell obese patients they eat too much, and it is their personal responsibility to eat less." Too harsh?
Disease, disability, both, or neither? What's your opinion?