Press Releases

< Back to Press Releases

January 15, 2015

Obesity is Not a Disability According to Most Doctors on SERMO, the leading U.S. Social Network for Doctors

Poll Finds 88 Percent of U.S. Doctors Disagree With the European Union Ruling Obesity as a Disability, Believing Governments Should Invest in Curbing, Not Enabling, the Obesity Epidemic

NEW YORK — Today SERMO, the leading social network for doctors, announced the results of a poll of 2,238 doctors on the contentious issue of whether obese individuals should be considered disabled. An overwhelming majority of doctors, 88 percent, disagreed with a new ruling from the European Union under which employers will be required to protect obese workers and provide them with special parking spaces, larger seats and additional accommodations. The ruling, issued on December 18, 2014, was a landmark decision by the European Court of Justice and has established a precedent that could affect employment rights across the continent.


“The obesity epidemic has exploded in the U.S. and we are now seeing it grow to a global phenomenon,” said Dr. Linda Girgis, a SERMO member and a family physician. “The key to solving this problem is prevention, not enablement. Governments should invest in curbing the epidemic and preventing obesity.”

"There are legitimate medical illnesses that cause obesity and these should be respected as such. However, the vast majority of obese individuals do not have medical illnesses and are not entitled to disability,” said Dr. Andrew Wilner, neurologist and SERMO member.

“One of the greatest aspects of SERMO is that doctors can be anonymous. Anonymity is important for doctors and allows our members to have the freedom to express themselves. As such, SERMO has become a true voice for physicians to openly discuss their thoughts,” said Peter Kirk, CEO of SERMO.

Some anonymous SERMO member comments:

“Obesity is a reversible condition. I could see giving someone defined time off for extensive diet/ exercise/ bariatric surgery to reverse the condition if they were so impaired they couldn't work, similar to alcohol/ drug rehab. I do not, however, support tax dollars being used to accommodate obese individuals in the work place.” – Anonymous Oncologist

“This is just saying, if excess weight is the only reason you can't do your job, you may have to be accommodated rather than fired. Presumably these will be rare cases with morbid obesity who need larger office chairs or surgical gowns. Most workplaces have been doing things like that for years. However, if this happened in the US I'd think hmmm, maybe it's aimed at preventing employers from firing people who are likely to incur higher health care costs.” – Anonymous Physiatrist

“The EU is 20 years behind the times. Back in 1995, Homer Simpson was depicted as gaining weight and operating his computer from the couch using a broomstick handle.  Yes, this is what the world is condoning and aspiring to. It's wrong.” – Anonymous Pathologist

“There are legitimate medical illnesses that have obesity. However, accepting obesity as a disability should come with close medical supervision. If not, this will be another form of endless welfare that now exists in this country. There has to be motivation to make this successful.” – Anonymous Pediatrician


About SERMO

SERMO is the United States' leading social network for fully verified, licensed physicians. SERMO is the place for doctors to talk about real world medicine.

Founded in 2005, SERMO's mission is to provide physicians with a safe, private and trusted platform for free and open discussions about real world medicine.

SERMO is a doctors’ ‘lounge’ where doctors candidly share their true feelings about their profession and lives, but it’s also a place where doctors learn from one another by asking each other real life questions, advice and second opinions about medicine.

Over the course of a decade, doctors have built an important medical knowledge bank within SERMO by virtue of those questions and answers. With over 300,000 verified U.S. physicians from 96 specialties and subspecialties, representing 40 percent of the American physician community, SERMO harnesses the collective wisdom of doctors, enabling medical crowdsourcing, knowledge sharing and thus the advancement of medicine.

What are SERMO polls?

Every Monday, SERMO posts a poll with a fresh, topical question. Each poll can receive up to 3,000 votes. Polls are open to all members of the community.  We ask anything from when was your last physical to how do you feel about maintenance of certification courses.  Our polls are one of the most popular areas of our site, they spark plenty of healthy debate and enable doctors to have a voice on important issues.

SERMO Polls are intended to be unscientific discussion starters to capture and report on the sentiment of thousands of physicians each week, on hot topics of the day.

SERMO Polls are written by the SERMO Community Team and by members, posted online within the closed SERMO community. Each member can vote a maximum of one time and polls are promoted both within the community and by email to community members.  Only members of the SERMO community of US Physicians may vote.  Members can see the results of the polls as votes are cast and final results are often posted in the SERMO blog, which is a way for physicians’ aggregated opinions to be heard by the general public about the medical issues of the day.

SERMO members must go through a three-stage, highly secure and accurate verification process. While the data have not been weighted to reflect the demographic composition of US physicians, SERMO physicians index closely to the demographics of American physicians in general. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-select for participation rather than being targeted from a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error.

To learn more, visit http://www.SERMO.com.

Media Contacts:
Osnat Benshoshan, VP, Marketing
SERMO
osnat.benshoshan@sermo.com
+1.805.479.8343

Victoria Khamsombath
SHIFT Communications
SERMO@shiftcomm.com
+1.617.779.1859