Is being obese a Disability?

  • Rowing_Ant

    Posts: 1504

    Oct 17, 2011 8:43 PM GMT
    I work as a Support Worker and provide one - to- one mentoring and counselling and help with study skills to students with Disabilities at my local University (Im not going to reveal its name). The Disability Office is there to support students who have Specific Learning Disabilities such as Dyslexia or Dyspraxia, Emotional and Behavioural Disorders like Autism or Anxiety or similar and also those students who need wheelchairs or are partially sited or deaf etc.

    Now...this week we've been faced with a problem. We've been asked to support an 18 year old student who is at least 18 stones. According to his very pushy parents he is "Disabled" and "through not fault of his own".(both parents, are verging on the morbidly obese).

    The student has Diabetes, Asthma, bad knee and hip joints and very early onset Arthritis which makes him less abled.So he "needs" a wheelchair and crutches.

    Now....we in the Disability office don't consider this kid Disabled as its obvious he has eaten himself to being that just calous?I dont know. Is it the same as being born deaf or blind or suffering a terrible emotional scar or injury lraving you less abled for the rest of your life?

    I Have to do one to one counselling with him and also his parents about lifestyle choices. Apparently he was "always a big boy" and its "puppy fat". He says its not his fault he has bad genes (maybe....but probably parents). Had him on the treadmill with a Defibrulator trained nurse on stand by in case he kealed over. He complained every minute he was on there like a spoiled brat. "Daddy it hurts daddy I dont wanna Daddy make it stop Daddy I dont like walking". After the 20 minute gentle walk and a gentle swim, Daddy then gave him a king size Marsbar as a"reward" for being a " brave boy".


    Here endeth the rant.

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    Oct 17, 2011 11:32 PM GMT
    Not a disability, but a different from alcohol/drug/sex/etc addiction.

    Edit: Oh yeah, and for some it's a fetish.
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    Oct 18, 2011 12:43 AM GMT
    Not a disability. You can't diet and exercise to grow your legs back.
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    Oct 18, 2011 12:53 AM GMT
    No not a disability----nor is being epileptic and arthritic
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    Oct 18, 2011 12:54 AM GMT
    I believe that a fat kid is a tragedy, and it's not the kid's fault. ANY child is going to eat crap if you let them. I was having this discussion with someone the other day who is really judgmental of fat people (even more so than I!), and we were debating at what age the responsibility for being fat shifts to the "kid" - young adolescence? mid-late adolescence? Early 20's? I think it's tough to expect someone to hit a magic age and suddenly be able to unlearn ALL the bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, etc. that were learned at home, especially if the parents refuse to acknowledge that IT'S NOT GOOD TO BE OBESE and won't let the school nurse, cafeteria staff, or PE department intervene with the kid.

    That said, I don't believe in coddling fat kids by letting them out of P.E. or other such "solutions" that schools have employed. Make the kid at least WALK for 40 minutes. That alone will get him huffing and puffing!

    But, in this case, if the kid is still saying "Daddy," and the father is actually there with him at the doctor's office while he's on the treadmill, AND "Daddy" gives him a fucking candy bar like a five-year-old, then this kid has serious issues that go beyond obesity. He has not been allowed to grow up, and he's going to need some serious scaffolding to learn how to be an adult. In that sense, he IS disabled, through shitty parenting. So it's a tough call. Of course, my solution would be to ban the parents from campus and keep the kid from going home for a fucking YEAR. Which is why they don't let me do shit like counseling. icon_confused.gif
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    Oct 18, 2011 1:45 AM GMT
    Absolutely not, the problem is obesity is the leading cause of most illnesses which disable people.

    I have a cousin who is obese, she is trying to get on disability now. She is probably 300 pounds, but would be very attractive if she lost weight.

    She has back problem, diabetes, high blood pressure, fluid in legs, etc....she just doesn't get it she needs to lose weight.

    I truly can't stand being around her or my aunt because all they do is talk about her health problems. I've told her flat out you are in a crisis if you don't lose weight you are going to be dead. I said I am telling you this because I want to see you live. I've offered to help her go walk etc...she is not interested.

    Howard Stern took some shit a year or two ago when he said that Gabourey Sidibe was obese and would not have a long career in Hollywood. He basically said that instead of Oprah saying she was going to be a great starlet, Oprah needed to get her to the hospital because she was very sick.

    The sad part is people ripped Howard apart and he was the only one who was not afraid to say to Precious she needs to lose weight or she is headed down a bad road.

    I think we coddle people too much when they are obese....telling them to love there bodies, etc. I was once obese (for maybe 3 years ages 23-25)....and honestly people would be like you look fine blah blah. When I look at pictures from before I am mortified.

    I agree with the above poster too....nothing is sadder than a fat kid, and by excusing your child from PE is not doing them any favors.
  • Rowing_Ant

    Posts: 1504

    Oct 18, 2011 3:52 PM GMT
    His parents say he has Autism and Aspergers syndrome. The university I work at said no he didnt, so they went for a second opinion at another institiution who also said no he didnt. The conclusion was he is just molly-coddled by his mother who when something gets too hard for him, makes the problem go away.

    e.g. he had a job in a book shop on saturdays but it was "too stressful" when he started university so his mum paid him as pocket money the equivalent of his wage.

    Yeah. Seriously.

    He also failed his second year exams but his mum threatened to sue that the uni was failing her he was put through to his final year on special circumstances and is quite literally failing as the degree he is doing, Computing Forensics, is everything this kid hates = Math, Programming, Coding and Databases. He says its not fair he has to do the same course work as his peers and why should he do things hes not good at/told himself he doesnt like/isnt good at (combination of all three here).

    I think he has mistaken a Computer Science degree for one in just computers.
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    Oct 18, 2011 6:23 PM GMT
    How does your university define the term "disability"? A quick search on brings up the following:

       /ˌdɪsəˈbɪlɪti/ Show Spelled[dis-uh-bil-i-tee]
    noun, plural -ties for 2.
    1. lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability; incapacity.
    2. a physical or mental handicap, especially one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job.

       /dɪsˈeɪbəld/ Show Spelled[dis-ey-buhld]
    1. crippled; injured; incapacitated.

    If using the above definitions, yes, obesity is a disability, and the kid is technically "disabled". The above definitions make no reference to whether or not the condition is self-inflicted, preventable, or curable.

    I do agree that this kid has some major health problems and that his condition is disgustingly sad, but I think a Disability Office's job isn't to make character judgments that determine whether or not a person receives aid.
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    Oct 18, 2011 6:31 PM GMT
    Whether it's a disability or not, he clearly has major issues (emotional as well as physical) and needs serious counseling along with diet and exercise. The parents sound like they need it too.
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    Oct 18, 2011 7:13 PM GMT
    Labeling an obese person as someone with a "disability" is insulting to those who have no legs or arms or any other true disability.
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    Oct 18, 2011 8:02 PM GMT
    Yes... but I don't see how it becomes the responsibility of the university to accommodate self-inflicted disabilities.

    The last few years that I was teaching at PC-U it seemed to be getting out of hand. In the lower-division mega-class that I taught, around 5% of the students were on some sort of disability status. It wasn't my business to know what their "disability" was supposed to be, but it rendered them unable to complete tests or assignments in class. All of their assignments were handed over to tutors, and the tutors handed the completed work back to me. Well enough if this was education for the sake of education. However, virtually all of those students were in vocational training for some sort of nursing program. It's just not credible that these people could ever qualify for such a job.

    (btw: The "disabilities" in question were NOT "english as a second language." Those people had their own separate system of proctors/translators for exams.)
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    Oct 18, 2011 8:24 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidYes... but I don't see how it becomes the responsibility of the university to accommodate self-inflicted disabilities.

    How would you define "self-inflicted"? The way I see it, unless someone was born with or genetically pre-disposed to a disabling condition, one could twist most any disability as having been "self-inflicted".