Should Obesity Be Considered A Disability?

In Ontario, obesity is considered a disability if it is the result of an injury, birth effect or illness. However, Bill Bogart, a Windsor professor would like to change this.  Mr. Bogart would like to protect obese individuals from discrimination under the human rights code.

He believes that Canadians should accept individuals in all shapes and sizes to combat the stigmatization of obesity. He points out that some individuals are discriminated against and subjected to prejudice due to their body size. In fact, some individuals are fired due to their size.

According to Sharon Kirkey from the National Post, obesity has increased over 400% in the last thirty years. Furthermore, an estimated 1.2 million Canadians have a BMI of 35 or more.  These factors have been taken into consideration in cases in the past; for instance, “morbidly” obese individuals are accommodated under the law and obese individuals who require two seats on a Canadian flight pay for the price of one seat rather than two.  Canadian law accommodates for discrimination against individuals who have become disabled due to their obesity but not so much otherwise.

Some lawyers argue that with obesity on the rise, the law should reflect the new social norms.  Some lawyers argue that obesity is not just a physical condition as it can have mental precautions as well.  Similarly, victims of obesity discrimination argue that they were fired from their jobs despite their ability to perform their jobs due to their weight.  Critics have another take.

Some overweight individuals believe that this is shaming. These individuals argue that their weight should not be considered a disabling characteristic. Many overweight individuals do not believe that they need accommodation or protection under the law as it is not a life defining or impairing condition.  Furthermore, some individuals argue that this is a condition individuals can control and putting in place freedom from weight discrimination will only enable individuals not to lose weight.

Points of discussion:

1. If obesity is the new norm should it be accommodated under human rights?

2. Do you believe obesity is a condition individuals have control over?

3. How do you feel about protecting obese individuals under the human rights code?

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  1. I agree with the “shaming” perspective. Certain rights aimed towards equality should not be explicitly directed towards any certain group of people. It’s like a double negative. People who happen to be obese should be aware of their situation what adversity it presents them with in their daily life.

    And yes, you need to buy two seats on an airplane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very interesting perspective and very well articulated. I agree with your point about double stigmatization. It’s a sensitive line to tread on. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I truly appreciate it. I hope I will hear more from you in the future.


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