Is being overweight a disability?

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Sometime ago, I saw someone screaming at another person that they were disabled and should be allowed to go first on a line. The person being screamed at asked, “What is your disability?” They replied, “I almost weigh 400 pounds, it hurts me to walk! What do you think it is?” The person who was on the line first countered with the question, “Is being overweight a disability?” To which the heavier person said, “I can’t do the same things you can, so yes, I’m disabled and you should allow me to go first.” The other guy thought for a second and said, “No. You need the exercise.”

I stood by watching this unfold, and I got to thinking, is being overweight a disability? I’ve done work with paraplegics, quadriplegics, and other folks with injuries/diseases that disable the body against their will. There is absolutely nothing that these individuals can do to change their situation.

Besides some basic needs that should be met, (ie: curbside access) you know what these folks want more than anything? They want to be independent! They wish to live their own lives and do things for themselves. Though in some cases a little help is required to live, they don’t expect your average person to feel sorry for or treat them like they are special.

Meanwhile, this person, who’s self identified disability is being overweight, was DEMANDING special treatment from the general public. Well, it was not to be had on this day cause the guy in front wasn’t having any of it.

So back to the question, is it really a disability? If you eat healthier, exercise, and make some life changes, you can change your body composition. A person with a injury or disease inflicted disability can make no such changes. Is it fair then that someone who has for whatever reason allowed themselves to become heavier to try and lump themselves in with genuinely disabled folks while demanding special allowances be made for them?

I’m not trying to start a fight here, nor am I looking to bash or shame anyone, but this individual (I’m not speaking of the entire population) was really acting entitled. And based on what happened, the general public didn’t appreciate that. Thoughts?


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Podcaster. Poet, Veteran, Fitness Professional. Former MMA & BJJ fighter. Feat on Men's Fitness, OnMogul, HuffPo, NY1, NPR, FOX, MTV, Natgeo, HLN, ZLiving, Hot97, Family Circle Mag & more!