Chef told he's too fat to live in New Zealand

A South African chef has been told by authorities in New Zealand that he's too fat to be permitted to live in the country. Albert Buitenhuis, who weighs 286 lbs, faces expulsion from the country he's called home since 2007.

A South African chef has been told by authorities in New Zealand that he's too fat to be permitted to live in the country.

Albert Buitenhuis, who weighs 286 lbs, faces expulsion from the country he's called home since 2007.

Buitenhuis said immigration officials told him he did not have "an acceptable standard of health" and his work visa would not be renewed, Fairfax NZ News reported.

When the chef moved with his wife to Christchurch, he weighed even more — 352 lbs. At the time, the chef had just quit smoking.

The couple told BBC News that their annual work visas had been renewed with "very little problem." Officials never mentioned his weight until the couple tried to renew their visas in May.

At 5'8" tall, Albert Buitenhuis has a body mass index of more than 40, which lands him in the medically obese territory.

An immigration spokesman said all applicants with a body mass index of more than 35 are investigated.

The OECD's most obese nations

  1. United States
  2. Mexico
  3. New Zealand
  4. Chile
  5. Australia
  6. Canada
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Ireland
  9. Luxembourg
  10. Finland

The spokesman said the chef had been rejected because his obesity put him at "significant risk" of health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and hypertension.

He added that the department's medical assessors have  to consider to "what extent there might be indications of future high-cost and high-need demand for health services."

The Buitenhuis' say they have a letter from a doctor confirming that Albert had brought his cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control. The Buitenhuis' have made an official appeal to New Zealand's associate minister of immigration and are waiting for a decision.

New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate among developed countries, behind the United States and Mexico, according to a 2012 report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.