Sixty-four people in NI are currently claiming incapacity benefit because they are too obese to work.
The information came to light in response to an Assembly question tabled by the SDLP's Thomas Burns.
"Without knowing the details of every case it is probably a bit simplistic to say that these people are 'too fat to work'," said Mr Burns.
"But it's alarming that a number of people are so grossly overweight they are unable to get a job."
The South Antrim representative continued: "Although these people have been primarily diagnosed as obese they probably have a whole catalogue of secondary and related medical and psychological conditions.
"These may include diabetes, depression and mobility problems, which not only prevent them from finding gainful employment but reduce their quality of life overall.
"I therefore have a certain degree of sympathy for these people and I find this situation to be quite sad.
"Work is a very important part of life. It gives people a purpose, structures the day and provides many people with their main social network. Most people spend almost as much time with their work colleagues as their do with their other friends and family.