EU Ruling: Obesity

It’s been reported in the media recently that a man in Denmark alleges to have lost his job as a childminder because he was obese. He brought a discrimination case against his employer and a legal challenge has gone all the way to the European Court of Justice (EJC). To quote the BBC, “the ECJ 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”. This has significant implications for employers.

As a therapist helping people manage their weight I have other concerns. I acknowledge obesity is a serious issue. What concerns me is any legislation that appears to shift responsibility from the individual to employers and the state. Yes, employers can provide larger desks and chairs, but wouldn’t a more sensible approach be to encourage people to lose weight and provide support to keep the weight off permanently? Helping individuals to manage their weight also means they become less involved with state health care. People suffering obesity need help, but not legislation that encourages them not to lose weight.