Jody Schimmel Hyde of the Mathematica Center for Studying Disability Policy has issued a report on the prelevance of obesity among applicants for Social Security disability benefits. Not surprisingly, the study shows an increasing rate of obesity among Social Security disability applicants. I say not surprisingly because the incidence of obesity in the population in general has been increasing.
The interrelationship between obesity and disability is complex. Take a construction worker who becomes disabled by orthopaedic problems. It's a near certainty that he or she will gain weight, probably a fair amount of weight. This happens because he or she will probably continue to eat about the same amount of food even though he or she is no longer nearly as active. It may also happen because he or she is trying to deal with a good deal of stress because of the sudden change in their life and financial problems. Stress often leads to weight gain.
Hyde makes the suggestion that people shouldn't be found disabled if obesity is a material factor in causing their disability. That would be a great way of institutionalizing prejudice against the disabled.