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Carol Hunt: Obesity isn't a disability, it's an addiction to bad foods...and no EU law will fix that


Overweight man.

Overweight man.

Overweight man.

The European Court of Justice, in all its politically correct wisdom, has deemed obesity to be a disability.

Well, not quite a disability in itself, but that it can be considered a "disability" if it "hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life, on an equal basis with other workers".

This is, quite frankly, madness of the highest order. The case in question concerns a Danish child-minder allegedly fired from his job because, at 25 stone, he was unable to bend over to tie a child's shoe laces.

You know, much as I sympathise with his troubles, if you're very overweight and find it hard getting around, a job running after brim-full-of-energy-kids probably isn't the most suitable for you.

That isn't discrimination, one could argue, just common sense.

All over Europe, employers will be aghast at this decision. It may mean that people who are obese are now entitled to demand larger door-frames, special parking, bigger and sturdier chairs, soft cushions and the like.


If their employers don't provide them they can scream 'discrimination' and sue. I wish I could see Michael O'Leary's face when he finds out. Or maybe not.

In Ireland, recent reports say that at least a quarter of all adults here are obese. Yes, we Irish have overweight and obesity levels in excess of the European average.

Four out of five of those over 50 are either overweight or obese as are more than 20pc of our nine-year-olds. Many of us are fat and getting fatter. Just look at the way the waistbands of school uniforms have expanded in the last ten years or so.

We can't deny that it is very bad for us in a myriad number of ways and it's also putting a whopping great strain on our health services.

And yet in the main, we're still in denial about it. Our kids are just chubby and as for ourselves, well, who are you to call me obese, eh?

Labelling all the people who meet the criteria for obesity as 'disabled' isn't going to help them lose even one pound of weight and it makes a mockery out of other disabilities such as blindness or mobility impairment.

Many people who fall under the category of "obese" do so because they are addicted to foods which make them fat. Sugar, for instance, is one of the most addictive substances known to man.

Today we consume three times more sugar than we did fifty years ago. We know it's bad for us the same way we knew tobacco was bad for us.

If we want to cut back for the good of our health we need a lot of will power and support to do so.

And we need to choose to do so because we want to do it ourselves. We need to take responsibility for our own bodies.

What we don't need is a bureaucratic pat on the head telling us not to worry, nothing we can do about being obese - sure aren't we stuck with a 'disability'?

Telling people that they have a disability, instead of a warped relationship with food which can be corrected, is telling them that they are essentially powerless over their own choices. This is totally wrong.


Europe is behaving like an over-indulgent parent, telling a grossly overweight child not to worry, it isn't the cream cakes, double fries and bucket of Coke he has for lunch each day that's making him fat, it's just his 'disability'. Never mind pet, have another burger to take your mind off it!

Instead of implementing some tough love, confiscating the child's sweets and junk food or telling obese adults get some exercise, Europe is effectively committing them to a life of obesity with all its related illnesses such as diabetes, heart problems and early death.

Don't get me wrong, I have great sympathy for anyone who suffers from obesity.

Trying to lose weight is very difficult, particularly if you have an emotional or addictive relationship with food.

But calling an obese person 'disabled' will not help him to extend his life, or prevent him from not eating himself to death.

By making obesity a disability the European Court of Justice is ensuring that people remain in denial about the control they have over their eating habits.

And it makes the rest of us snort in utter disbelief. Truly, Europe has totally lost the plot on this one.