Britain’s obesity problem is the worst in Western Europe
Britain’s obesity problem is the worst in Western Europe

Obese people should start work later to ease rush-hour anxiety, government adviser says

He also claims that obesity should be treated like other health conditions to stop workplace discrimination

Sarah Young
Sunday 27 May 2018 13:36

Obese staff should be allowed to start work later to avoid anxiety during rush hour, a government adviser has recommended.

Britain’s obesity problem is the worst in Western Europe with the number of people in England, Wales and Scotland diagnosed expected to double by 2035.

In accordance with this rise, an employment expert has suggested that overweight employees should be offered flexible starts and should have the right to sue employers if they are not offered jobs or promotions because of their weight.

Speaking at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, Professor Stephan Bevan, of the Institute for Employment Studies, said letting obese staff who feel anxious about travelling on public transport arrive an hour later, or work from home, would help their mental health.

“It can be working time, it can be having a bit of understanding that someone might need to turn up at 10 o’clock because they have trouble with transport or anxiety about transport,” he said.

“I don’t think enough [employers] regard being overweight and obese as part of the family of conditions or impairments that they need to do something about.”

Professor Bevan also recommended that obesity be treated like other health conditions to stop workplace discrimination, the Daily Mail reports.

“Some people say that obesity is the last characteristic that it’s still socially acceptable to make fun of. There is a widespread belief among doctors, employers and society that obesity is self-inflicted and is a lifestyle choice,” he explained.

“They don’t believe making adjustments for people with obesity is as important or deserved as someone with what they regard as a ‘proper disability’.”

Despite the expert’s claims, others have been quick to criticise the recommendations out of concern they could promote obesity.

“This is a ludicrous idea that will only create resentment against obese people if it were implemented,” Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said.

“Being fat is not a disability and the majority of people get to work by car so it is difficult to see why obese people should be given an extra hour to arrive.

“If obese people are to be given special privileges, should we not also give special privileges to smokers, alcoholics and compulsive gamblers? Where does it end?”

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