A mother and daughter recently said they’re proud that being overweight has prevented them from being able to work, and are happy to be living off of benefits from the British government.
Janice Manzur, 44, and her 25-year-old daughter Amber weigh a total of 603 pounds, and their health issues have made it difficult for them to move around. Both women use mobility scooters, and Janice’s home in Fife, Scotland, was renovated to accommodate their needs.
Janice, a mother of two, had previously worked at a call center but left because of health issues and has been receiving government benefits since 2006. The Manzur women take in about $51,100 per year from benefits. Janice said she and her daughter have no plans to diet despite serious health risks, saying that they are happy just the way they are.
“I’ve always been big and I’m too fat to work, so I have a genuine disability. I should be miserable but I’m happy,” Janice said. “I know this is the way I’m meant to be.” Janice’s daily diet includes ready-made dinners, which she said are less expensive and more convenient than cooking.
Amber, who has one child, has been on disability since she left a security job when she broke her leg. She reportedly lives 50 yards from her mother, but always chooses to drive there. “People shouldn’t judge me or my mum for how big we are because it’s in our genes,” she said.
Amber’s mother agrees with her decision, saying, “I’d rather my daughter live life fat and happy than depressed and thin.”
Neighbor Steven Hunter said that he often sees Amber, and her weight has seriously affected her ability to function. “Amber is that bad she can hardly walk. It takes her half an hour to get up the stairs,” Hunter said. “She’s never walking. When she comes round to see someone it takes her half an hour to get to the house.”
Another neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said she thinks the Manzur’s benefits should be taken away. “The amount of benefits they get is ridiculous,” she said. “’My views are people like that should have their benefits cut. It will fall to the National Health Service to pay for treatment.”
National Obesity Forum representative Tam Fry said he was “horrified” that people were receiving disability benefits just because they were obese.
“I think it’s a total exploitation of the benefits system,” Fry said. “I’m at a loss for words. There must be a benefits system available to help those people who require assistance and there are many of them. That is correct and that is why it is there. But when it is handed to a family who are happy to exploit it to the degree of £34,000 ($51,700) a year and are refusing to diet the system has gone mad.”
Fry placed the blame for such a flawed benefit program on the system itself.
“It’s very difficult to blame the individuals but what I can blame is the health system which actually allowed this to happen. If you had a proper system of monitoring children and adults and were able to introduce them to weight management courses or weight loss courses we would not be in this situation,” he said. “But the horses have bolted and we can’t shut the stable door.”
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