The head of the Cleveland Clinic is defending his recent statement that if he could, he would choose not to hire obese people.
Clinic CEO Dr. Delos "Toby" Cosgrove opened a conference on obesity Wednesday by saying his remark to The New York Times last month was intended to spur discussion. He says obesity represents a major social, economic and medical problem that should be given the same priority as efforts to curb tobacco use.
The clinic stopped giving jobs to smokers two years ago.
Cosgrove says he never considered not hiring obese people but says his point was that bold action is needed.
A conference panelist from an organization that fights insurance and job discrimination against the obese accused Cosgrove of having a "bias mentality."