- True figure of those claiming sickness benefits for obesity likely to be 880,000
- Dame Carol Black said data was not accurate due to way claimants fill out forms
- Said those claiming if they are too sick to work can only put one primary illness
Almost 900,000 people in Britain are too fat to work, an expert has warned.
While the official number of those claiming sickness benefits for obesity is 160,000, the true figure is likely to be more than five times higher at around 880,000, Professor Dame Carol Black said.
Dame Carol, a former consultant rheumatologist who moved into academic research and is now principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, compiled a report for the Department for Work and Pensions last year looking at how obesity affects people’s ability to work.
Yesterday she said the Government data was not accurate because of the way claimants have to fill out forms.
While the official number of those claiming sickness benefits for obesity is 160,000, the true figure is likely to be more than five times higher at around 880,000
The former president of the Royal College of Physicians explained that those claiming benefits if they are too sick to work can only put down one primary illness.
This means hundreds of thousands who are obese may list other conditions linked to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes and heart problems, who are then not included in the figures of those who cannot work because of obesity.
Speaking about her report at the Hay Festival of Arts and Literature, Dame Carol, 77, said: ‘I was asked if obesity influences your ability to work and for those recorded as obese, can we get them back into work.
‘Well the first thing is that there are only 160,000 people recorded in the benefits system as being obese – we know that cannot be true.