Job-Related Weight Discrimination Prevalent

April 14, 2008 ( - Using data from a survey of nearly 2,300 Americans, researchers at Yale University found that 5% of men and 10% of women said they had faced discrimination because of their weight, ranging from job refusals to rude treatment in everyday life.

Reuters Health reports that among respondents who were severely obese – having a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher – 40% reported instances of weight discrimination. Among individuals who reported weight discrimination, 60% said they had experienced work-related discrimination, such as not being hired, being passed over for promotion, or being wrongly fired.

“In order to reduce weight bias, we need major shifts in societal attitudes,” lead researcher Dr. Rebecca M. Puhl told Reuters Health. She noted that overweight people should have legal protection against discrimination.

Many respondents also cited day-to-day types of discrimination, like being treated with less respect or courtesy than others, or being “perceived as inferior,” the news report said. Compared with victims of other forms of discrimination, those who reported weight bias were more likely to say they had been called names or overtly insulted.

The research found twice as many women as men reported weight discrimination. In addition, women seemed to be vulnerable to weight discrimination even if they were moderately overweight, whereas only severely obese men reported discrimination at the same rate as their female counterparts.