(The United States takes a similar approach to obesity as the United Kingdom. While obesity, per se, is not generally considered a disabling condition, certain maladies related to obesity are. For example, some individuals with obesity also suffer from diabetes. In addition, obesity can lead to musculoskeletal problems, especially with the knees and feet. Some employers regard morbid obesity — generally 100 pounds over what is considered a normal weight — as constituting a disability, regardless of whether there are any related conditions. — Mike Tully)
With reports suggesting long-term sickness and absence may be fuelled by Britain’s obesity crisis, organisations are finding themselves under pressure to foster a culture of healthy eating and living within the workplace. But they are likely to find themselves with an increasingly tricky line to tread as they work to encourage healthy living, while not seeming to be discriminatory.
The relationship between obesity and absence from work hit the headlines in December 2016 when Dame Carol Black, who advised the government on the relationship between work and health, suggested people on benefits who are obese should attend sessions with a health adviser. This, Dame Carol argued, could encourage more people claiming benefits back into work.
Cost to the economy
A 2015 report by McKinsey & Company said obesity costs the UK nearly £47bn a year, with Nice reporting that an obese person takes on average four extra sick days a year.