New Zealand immigrant chef booted for being too fat

July 27, 2013 at 3:36 PM

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, July 27 (UPI) -- A South African chef who moved to New Zealand had his work visa revoked because immigration officials said he is too fat.

Albert Buitenhuis moved to Christchurch with his wife, Marthie, in 2007, when he weighed 360 pounds. Since then he's lost weight and he now weighs 286 pounds, the BBC reported Saturday.

Marthie Buitenhuis said her husband has regularly applied for a visa renewal without problems -- until May when officials denied it, saying her husband did not have "an acceptable standard of health."

"They never mentioned Albert's weight or his health once and he was a lot heavier then," Marthie Buitenhuis said. "The irony is that at the moment he weighs less than when we first arrived in New Zealand and also less than in his first [physical], which was accepted by [immigration authorities]."

New Zealand has one of the world's highest adult obesity rates, with about 30 percent of individuals considered overweight.

Immigration officials defended the decision, saying immigrants have an obligation to live a healthy lifestyle and not pose a drain on social services.

"It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimize costs and demands on New Zealand's health services," an immigration spokesman said.

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