“We believe that to categorize all people, living with morbid obesity as disabled would not be a solution to the problem and opens a myriad of associated issues. Each person should be considered as an individual case rather than an overall judgment based on their weight,” Susannah Gilbert of Big Matters, a West Sussex-based counselling group for obese people, told Sputnik.
The court ruling raises more questions than it gives answers, she stated, noting that the key to dealing with the problem of obesity lies in prevention and support.
“How might an overall ruling affect those who are currently obese and yet able to undertake work and daily activities without issue, to find they are suddenly categorized as disabled? What are the consequences for those who are borderline on the qualifying Body Mass Index level?” she asked.
Meanwhile, Mary George, a spokeswoman for the UK-wide “Beat” organization which specializes in supporting people with eating disorders, welcomed the court’s decision.
“It is important to remember that not all obesity is a result of poor diet or lack of exercise. Many individuals have emotional issues around food and experience a great deal of stigma and misunderstanding in their everyday life,” George added.
Earlier on Thursday, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling in the case of Danish care worker Karsten Kaltoft who was dismissed in November 2010, allegedly on grounds of obesity.
The Court ruled that if physical impairments, including obesity, “hinder the full and effective participation of that person in professional life”, such obesity can fall within the concept of “disability”.