A quick thought from my darling husband - Thomas - who I've spoken about with recurring frequency around these parts. Hope you enjoy his thoughts on an issue that came up at work and the discussion it spawned which he later shared with me, and now with you.
Okay, so the topic that your usual host asked me to talk about is 'Weight as a Disability' after we'd talked a bit about it.
First, let me cover how it came up. A while back the AMA was asked to review whether obesity should be counted as a disability. As is typical, it was the fluff reporting on the new channel that was on at lunchtime at work, and became our topic of conversation (our lunch conversations are not for the faint of heart, and have gotten us in trouble with bystanders on a few occasions). So Sam turns to me and says “That must really burn you up, what with all the weight you've lost.”
So I had to have an opinion now, as the weight loss 'expert'. I told a bit on Enzo's story as a good example of why it should be considered. Enzo was heavy enough he caused the floor to shake when he walked. BIG GUY. When I met him, he'd started Weight Watchers at his doctors recommendation. While he was working on his weight he was out twice on medical leave, once for each knee to have them replaced. Eventually his weight loss stalled out around 125 pounds lost. He and his doctor decided that it was necessary to get the gastric bypass surgery to get his weight under control fast enough to keep from damaging the knee replacements.
Over the time (about nine months to a year) that all of this occurred, Enzo and his doctor had to fill out the disability paperwork and get the approvals for the procedures and time off, and all the other items required to get things lined up three times.
I can see a wonderful argument that if obesity were counted as a disability, they could have lined all of the surgeries under a single disability and saved huge chunks of time filling out paperwork. That doesn't even take into account the advantages of having the last surgery (the bypass) requiring huge amount of effort to prove as 'necessary'.
Unfortunately, I can also see problems with 'if you just gain another 20 pounds, you'll qualify for the disability and then we can use the surgical solution' as a horrible abuse caused by labeling obesity as a disability. Not to mention the 'I can get Social Security Disability and not have to work if I just get heavy enough'. I have friends who are considering the bypass surgery as a replacement for changing lifestyles (I have a separate rant in my pocket about that), and can see them taking a ruling of disability as proof that that is the way to go.
So, in the end, no it didn't burn me up that it was being considered, but I do understand why the AMA did eventually returned the answer of 'No'. It's not that it may not in some cases be true, but that there's too much risk of abuse of the label, and many people can address their weight without the 'issue' being a 'disability'.