Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Couple denied entry into New Zealand because of weight

A UK man seeking to emigrate to New Zealand was hired as a submarine cable inspector and supervisor by Telecom. When he applied for his visa, he was denied entry. Why?

"His employer-backed skills visa was initially rejected by immigration officials when they discovered that his body mass index, or BMI, was 42, making him morbidly obese under New Zealand regulations."

So who was this slovenly couch potato? A Welsh rugby player, a former soldier.

"My doctor laughed at me. He said he’d never seen anything more ridiculous in his whole life. He said not every overweight person is unhealthy or unfit."

New Zealand now has a policy of denying entry visas for those it claims "will be a drain on the health system" and claims to have no idea how many people have been turned down based on weight. They use, by the way, the BMI scale as a determinant, which doesn't take muscle weight into account. As a point of reference, the majority of the U.S. National Basketball Association would be considered overweight or obese.

The man went on a crash diet and lost two inches, doing who-knows-what damage to his system, just to be able to get into the country. His wife, however, had to stay behind until she could lose enough weight to be an "acceptable" immigrant.

So the main argument was that fat people cost the health care system more, in a country that has nationalized health care. In addition to the lack of evidence that weight, rather than lifestyle, has ANY effect on health care costs, the article states:

Mr Trezise has private health care in New Zealand and his employer, Telecom, has a gym membership scheme."

So with the health care costs taken care of by a private company, could it be that New Zealand simply doesn't want fat people there? Even though the country is "critically short of skilled workers"? Are they seriously willing to take their image of a thin country so far as to shoot their economy in the foot?

On the other hand, some would say, he could always choose to stay in the U.K. But fat discrimination is so rampant there that they actually feel it is in the national interest to deny access to in-vitro fertilization to obese women (even though they allow it for smokers, heavy drinkers, those with congenital disorders, etc.) and institute a mandatory weighing of grade school students, going so far as to recommend lap-band surgery for obese youth. They're so afraid of the overinflated "guesstimates" of health care costs from obesity that they're willing to pay for a dangerous, ineffective cosmetic surgery with a 40% complication rate in the first few years, often ending in death, malnutrition, and organ failure.

I'd want to leave too.

1 comment:

Marshmallow said...

Yeah, I'm pissed about this. I'm a proud New Zealander, but I'm ashamed of my country's immigration department for implementing policies like this. I had my own rant about it, but am still steamed up.