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Should people who are overweight receive disability benefits?

Should people who are overweight receive disability benefits?
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More than 11,000 individuals in the UK currently receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for obesity-related illnesses, including diabetes and high blood pressure. The inference is that a proportion of these people are avoiding work and getting benefits simply because they are overweight. Is that true and is it right?

A Sensitive Issue

These situations and statistics are never really that black and white. Illnesses related to obesity are not necessarily caused by it. There will always be grey areas. And even if ill-health that prevents work is caused by obesity, is it right to penalise someone for that?

And yet there is an argument that personal responsibility has a part to play in some circumstances. If a person has made lifestyle choices that have included overeating and this has led directly to their obesity and health problems, then some may argue that these individuals should not receive benefits.

This issue is a hot potato, so to speak

Should people who are overweight receive disability benefits?Some Facts

The annual welfare bill for obesity-related illnesses is some £54 million, with the number of claimants doubling in the last five years. Obesity is estimated to cost the NHS in excess of £9 billion every single year.

Not all those receiving DLA are out of work, but the significant majority are and many receive the maximum benefit of £138 per week. Around a quarter of all UK adults are clinically obese.

With figures like these it’s easy to see why those suffering from obesity are a target for criticism. But there are two sides to every argument

Critics of obesity argue that:

  • People are independent and can make their own choices about the food they eat – if that makes them unhealthy it’s not the taxpayer’s fault
  • If benefits were refused for obesity and related health issues, it may encourage people to eat a better diet and exercise more
  • Many individuals manage to lead a healthy lifestyle that avoids obesity – it is a lifestyle choice and should not be allowed as an excuse for not working

Those in support of those receiving the benefit argue that:

  • Some recipients have legitimate medical or genetic causes for their obesity
  • Obesity is an illness – people are addicted to food and need support to fight that addiction
  • Food manufacturers must take some of the responsibility for poor labelling of food products

What are your thoughts on this issue? Should obese people receive benefits? We’re interested to know your views.

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, whatsapp plus,travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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