Obesity is a weighty problem for prospective employers

QI recently recruited an assistant manager and one of the candidates I turned down, although well qualified, was quite overweight. I simply couldn't imagine him fetching and carrying, ­making deliveries and all the other ­physical stuff that goes with the job. He's been in to see me since and accuses me of being prejudiced against fat people. Could he have a legal case against me?

A It is, of course, illegal to deny employment to somebody on the basis of their race, gender, religion or sexuality, but the law does not offer much protection to fat or obese people.

Some 20 million working adults fall into this bracket and in

personneltoday.com's recent poll of personnel managers

30 per cent claimed

obesity was a valid medical reason for not employing somebody. More tellingly, 93 per cent said that, given the choice between an average-weight candidate and a heavier, equally qualified applicant, the "normal" person would get the job.

The Disability Discrimination Act could come into play if the obesity has been caused by a medical condition: this could be diabetes, arthritis or even depression.

The Obesity Awareness & Solutions Trust is a charity fronted by Anne Diamond

and campaigns for a better understanding of fat-related issues and a more understanding and tolerant approach from employers.

It urges businesses to support overweight staff and help them towards a healthier future. Visit

http://fathappens.com for more details.

QI'm curious to know if there's a north-south divide with drinks sales. Is there any evidence of certain types of alcohol doing better in one region than another? I'm a retailer in Manchester

and my wine sales are not great just now, though I have friends in Hampshire who seem to be doing very well.

A There is indeed a sharp variation. Last year, according to Nielsen, beer sales were up 2 per cent. But some regions did much better than this: in the Meridian and Yorkshire TV regions, sales were up by a healthy 6 per cent. Central was up 4 per cent, and Tyne Tees and Anglia up 3 per cent. London performed in line with the average but Scotland saw no growth in beer sales whatsoever and in the Granada and Wales/West Country regions, sales were down 1 per cent.

Spirits saw no overall growth last year on a national scale, but the Anglia and Meridian TV areas saw 2 per cent and 1 per cent sales increases respectively. London's spirits sales slumped by a ­worrying 2 per cent.

As for wine, the overall national growth in 2006 was 2 per cent, though many ­regions did better: Tyne Tees, Central and Wales/West Country (3 per cent), Meridian and Yorkshire (4 per cent) and Anglia a very encouraging 7 per cent.

In your Granada TV region, wine sales in 2006 fell by 5 per cent

- the worst performance in any area by a single product category. Given that inflation alone should, in theory, account for a 3 per cent sales increase, north-western wine retailers do seem to have some problems to wrestle with.