please pack your knives and go

ObesityNZ1New Zealand is – surprisingly – the third most obese nation in the developed world (after the United States and Mexico) yet a 266-pound resident and successful chef from South Africa is currently in the process of being deported after 6 years in the country. The reason is simple: he is too fat for New Zealand. The fat guy is Albert Buitenhuis, who is five feet ten inches tall and has a body mass index of 40 – making him clinically obese. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) says that an applicant’s BMI must be under 35. But Buitenhaus is not leaving without a fight. “INZ’s medical assessors have said to consider to what extent there might be indications of future high-cost and high-need demand for health services,” an official said, as quoted by the Huffington Post. The chef has appealed to the country’s immigration minister, citing a recent weight loss, but the incident begs a larger conversation which, frankly, nobody wants to initiate: what is the collective cost of endemic obesity? The INZ might be coming at this from out of left field – and surely there will be charges of unfairness, even discrimination – but that shouldn’t negate the promise of government to promote the general welfare.

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