I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing on the news today, that being fat can constitute a disability.

The EU court ruling means bosses of obese staff who meet the criteria of the ruling would have to provide them with larger seats, special parking spaces and other facilities.

What? This is crazy. I am totally in agreement that if someone needs a bigger chair, or special ergonomic furniture due to a bad back then this should be provided but this is just normal human resources. Why on earth should an obese person get a special parking space? What else could they need because of their weight other than a special chair that can support their frame and back?

Surely they need all the exercise they can get, by giving them a disabled label it is almost as good as saying they don’t need to do anything to address their weight problem. Because let’s face it, we all know that being obese is not good for the heart, blood pressure, diabetes etc.

As someone with allergies, and lots of them, when I work in the office of some of my clients I cost them less than any other employee, not least because I’m freelance so maintain my own laptop, don’t get paid sick leave or holiday pay.

I don’t drink the office tea or milk, instead I bring in my own teabags or drink water, or the odd black coffee.

I certainly don’t eat the office biscuits, cakes, left over food from catering etc. I can’t eat any special treats that are brought in. I don’t mind this at all, it is just part of my coping method and essential for me to avoid my allergens. It is my life and I modify my behaviour to avoid my allergies. I don’t expect special treatment.

I should be getting a special rebate in my salary for not using many staff facilities and benefits. (joking*)

I am really not bashing anyone for carrying extra weight. I am just completely incensed by this new ruling on so many levels. How do you classify someone as obese? If you use the recommended calculation most rugby players are obese, but they are also some of the fittest sportsmen you’ll meet.

We should be encouraging ALL employees to get a proper work/life balance and that includes encouraging everyone to be more healthy. Offering gym membership, encouraging walking or jogging during lunch breaks and providing showers are just a few ways this can be done.

Being overweight is something that can be changed. It is not usually a permanent state, like being blind, deaf or having a life long condition that requires the use of wheelchair. If you’re fat you can lose weight. Most people who do lose weight feel healthier, have less depression, feel happier and enjoy life with a more balanced diet and more exercise.

If you have allergies, you have to carry adrenaline with you everywhere and remain constantly vigilant to avoid your allergens at home, outside and in the work place.

So will there be an EU ruling that people with allergies have a disability? I’m not aware of anyone losing their job because of the restrictions of having allergies, although many jobs are off limits e.g. Police, army, nut factory packer (nut allergy), milk maid (dairy allergy), balloon blower uperer (latex allergy) and I could go on.

What a load of nonsense. I have written about disabilities before and I’m confused. Most of the time I can do whatever I want, nothing stops me, but there are times when my allergies do restrict and limit what I can do. So is it a disability?




An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website http://whatallergy.com/ and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

2 Responses to If being obese is a disability so is having allergies

  1. Brenda Nutbourne

    I have been forced to leave teacher training due to idiopathic anaphylaxis. I struggle with strong smells and chemicals, including whiteboard pens. There are many alternatives but some people are too fixed inter ways to use chalk pens or wipeable crayon. I would resist being labelled as disabled as I would rather focus on what I can do.
    I was worried though; I had a reaction in only my second week of a new job. I expected to be told I wasn’t welcome back, fortunately they were only concerned that I made a full recovery.

    • I think MCS must be the hardest thing to avoid. I can avoid eating my allergens, I just go prepared and avoid eating stuff I have not checked or prepared myself. Avoiding chemicals and fragrances is almost impossible. They are everywhere, invisible and become more and more prevalent. I am really pleased to hear your new job are being understanding and helpful about your condition. Do you find wearing a mask helps? I have done this for my dust allergy, but find it too hot and stuffy to wear for long, end up removing it and then the dust hasn’t quite settled and I wheeze anyway. Dust is EVERYWHERE… and let’s face it, wearing a mask draws attention and you do feel a bit daft wearing one, even in the privacy of your own home. Would I wear one out and about or at work? I’m not sure. I have worn cotton gloves when having to handle that horrid fax paper which had a latex coating. Remember that stuff? Shiny and slippery horrible fax paper. Faxes seem to have disappeared nowadays.

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