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Ex-cop: ‘My job made me obese’

Jose Vega tips the scales at 163kg. Picture: iStock
Jose Vega tips the scales at 163kg. Picture: iStock

MAYBE it was the doughnuts.

A morbidly obese city cop got a hefty pension when he retired on disability at age 43, but he's still hungry for more dough - so he's suing the New York Police Department, claiming the job left him corpulent.

"The job is like a tyrant,'' said ex-NYPD officer Jose Vega, who is 177cm and tips the scales at 163kg.

"I went from 113kg to 179kg in one year - I guarantee you, as small as you are, you eat more than me," he told a New York Post reporter on Tuesday, insisting it was the slew of health problems caused by the stress of his former police job that led to his massive weight gain, not his eating habits.

Mr Vega, 46, a former Marine, said when he first joined the department in 1997, he weighed in at a svelte 81kg.

"My goal was to become a first-grade detective and homicide detective,'' he said.

"But they brainwashed you. 'Go out and make arrests.' The job would emphasise arrests without concern for any officer's heath,'' said the former cop, who worked in the Bronx's 42nd Precinct.

Mr Vega's lawyer, Warren Roth, said it was clear the job of a cop wasn't conducive to healthy eating.

"It's easier to pull into McDonald's and wolf something down when you're busy,'' Mr Roth said.

Mr Vega said a physical altercation with a landlord while on the job in 2011 "threw a wrench into my career,'' but he insisted he was a good cop.

"It seemed once they had a guy like me, they used and abused you. The more you did, the more they burdened you with," he said.

Mr Vega said as the stress - and his weight - soared, he finally called it quits in 2014, retiring on a $5050-a-month disability pension.

The next year, he applied for three-quarters disability - or a $7800-a-month pension - arguing his debilitating condition was caused by his police work.

But the medical board determined only about 10 per cent of his medical condition was related to job stress.

"They acknowledged my condition, but they didn't care,'' Mr Vega said.

"I know some people who have gotten disability pensions for a damaged pinky finger, and here I am with a main organ in my body [the heart] that's defective, and I'm being denied.''

He said his obesity came from ventricular hypertrophy.

"It's when you suffer from hypertension. Your heart starts to thicken. It's from stress,'' Mr Vega said.

"I'm not a diabetic. … I don't eat nothing sweet.

"I have a green tea at seven in the morning with honey. At nine, I have a fruit. At noon, I have 113g of lean meat with carrots or broccoli or cauliflower,'' he insisted.

"Then at 4 o'clock I eat the same thing. Then before the night, I will eat an apple or a banana. I snack on peanuts. Not sugar.

"My cheat days are Mondays."

The NYPD declined to comment on the suit.

A city Law Department representative said: "We'll review Mr Vega's complaint."

This story originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission.

Topics:  obesity police


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