After living in New Zealand for six years, a South African chef may be forced to leave the country because of his weight.
New Zealand authorities have told Albert Buitenhuis, who weighs 286 pounds, that he may be deported because he did not have "an acceptable standard of health," the BBC reports. Buitenhuis weighed roughly 65 pounds more when he first moved to the country, but this is the first time he has had any trouble renewing his annual work visa.
"It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimise costs and demands on New Zealand's health services," an Immigration New Zealand spokesperson told News24. She listed diabetes, hypertension and heart disease as some of the risks Buitenhuis faces because of his weight.
New Zealand has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world, according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. One in four New Zealand adults are obese, and roughly 1 million obese adults lived in the country last year, the New Zealand Herald reports.
The New Zealand health care system differs greatly from United States's system. In New Zealand residents, including those like Buitenhuis who live in the country with work permits, receive many health care services for free, including prescriptions and treatments at public hospitals. A U.S. resident spends 2.7 times more money on health care than people living in New Zealand, according to country comparison website IfItWereMyHome.com
In 2006, the private and public health care system spent $624 million on health care related to being overweight, according to the New Zealand Herald reports. In the U.S. -- where more than one-third of adults are obese -- obesity-related health care expenses added up to $190 billion in 2005, according to the Harvard School Of Public Health.
Worldwide, obesity has nearly doubled since 1980, according to the World Health Organization.