Monday, December 19, 2011


Physically handicapped persons are constrained for carrying out the activities of a normal person in one way or the other and all countries provide special facilities for such people to make their discomfort or handicap less obvious. There are even employment quotas for physically handicapped persons in many organizations which must be lauded and acknowledged. However can an obese person be considered as physically handicapped, deserving special considerations for making their lives more comfortable? Well this is an issue that may become controversial in future as more and more people are being pushed into the "obesity club" every day in almost all countries which are developing economically with the average income going up dramatically, enabling them to go for more calorie dense but tastier foods causing metabolic disequilibrium. While all other forms of physical handicaps are caused by accidents of birth or real life accidents, obesity is an "invited" handicap caused by undisciplined eating practices. Do they really deserve any special consideration for providing relief from the governments? From a social angle it may be a desirable approach to help them over come their disability condition as the consequences of increasing obese populations reflects on the human performance very significantly. Here is a balanced view on this newly emerging problem.  

"A recent Gallup survey of absenteeism among unhealthy American workers found that about 86 percent of full-time workers are above normal weight or have at least one chronic condition. The findings recall an eight-year study that Duke University researchers released several years ago finding that the most overweight workers had 13 times more lost workdays because of work-related injuries, and that their medical claims for those injuries were seven times more costly than those of their fit co-workers. Should it be illegal for businesses to discriminate against applicants who are obese, typically defined as 20 percent above the range of normal body weight or higher? Or is stronger legislation to protect against this type of bias the only answer?"

Recent report about a passenger being forced to stand for almost 7 hours in a flight from Anchorage to New York because he could not sit next to a passenger who was very fat and bulky due to obesity, may be a rare occurrence but one has to recognize that this a problem which is not going to fade away by choosing to ignore it. Of course the Airlines concerned could have forced the person, causing inconvenience to the fellow passenger, to buy two tickets for occupying two seats, though it did not happen that way. It must be admitted that no one willingly welcomes obesity and as it develops slowly and progressively the disease is not recognized till it is too late. Probably those with BMI beyond 34 can be considered as "medical patients", to be compulsorily treated to bring down the BMI mark below 30 through hospitalization for which health insurance companies must defray the cost.


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