OBESITY is an illness but should not be classed as a disability, it has been claimed.
Darin McCloud believes people who are overweight should be given more support and encouragement to lose weight.
He spoke out after a European Union ruling yesterday that obesity can be a disability in some circumstances.
Mr McCloud, 49, from Stanley Road, Stamshaw, Portsmouth, had previously tried to pile on the pounds on purpose in order to help him qualify for weight loss surgery.
But after seeing the error of his ways, traffic warden Mr McCloud lost weight through healthy eating and exercise.
He has now taken part in several runs, cycle rides and the London Marathon.
The EU court has said that if obesity could hinder ‘full and effective participation’ at work then it could be a disability.
Mr McCloud disagreed saying: ‘Obesity is not a disability, it’s a problem people have and it can be dealt with.
‘There are people who are disabled and there is nothing they can do have a “normal” life, but for someone who is obese this is possible.
‘It’s about lifestyle, what you eat and how much you exercise which can be controlled.
‘I do think there needs to be more help and support though for people to lose weight.
‘It is an illness, and overeating is usually because of problems in other areas, but it can be changed.’
The High Court was asked to consider the case of a 25st male childminder in Denmark who said he was sacked for being too fat.
Judges said that obesity in itself was not a disability – but if a person had a long term impairment because of their obesity, then they would be protected by disability legislation.
Mark Hoban, MP for Fareham, said: ‘The ruling is quite narrow in what it suggests so we should be careful what messages are drawn from it.
‘But obesity is something people can deal with themselves.’