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Should obesity be considered a disability?




A physiotherapist (L) assists obese patients with exercises in an obesity unit at the CHU Angers teaching hospital in Angers, western France, on October 23, 2013.
A physiotherapist (L) assists obese patients with exercises in an obesity unit at the CHU Angers teaching hospital in Angers, western France, on October 23, 2013.
JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images

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Europe’s highest court ruled last week that under certain circumstances, obesity can be considered a disability. The ruling came after a Danish man, Karsten Kaltoft, sued the local authority he was working for when he was fired. He claimed he was a victim of discrimination due to his weight.

How does the EU decision impact US policy -- if at all?  In the US, over a third of adults are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity is defined as any adult who has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher.  There is no federal policy that protects people from discrimination against obesity, although certain types of obesity are considered a disability in the US, and protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Should all types of obesity be considered a disability?

Guest: 

Christopher Conover, a Research Scholar in the the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke University