Weight Discrimination; Consequences and Solutions

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Weight Discrimination; Consequences and Solutions Obesity carries with it one of the last forms of socially acceptable and legal discrimination. Science has documented clear, consistent evidence that overweight people are discriminated against in employment, Puhl, Brownell, (2001). In America two out of three adults are overweight or obese. Weight bias affects millions at a steadily increasing rate. In 1995-1996, weight discrimination was reported by 7% in the United States. In 2004-2006, that percentage increased to 12%, Andreyeva, Puhl, & Brownell (2008). Weight bias reduces earning potential, affects hiring and promotion opportunities, and affects academic opportunities and achievement. As of now, there are no federal laws that protect overweight people from discrimination. Including weight as a category of discrimination in federal, state, and local statutes has potential to reduce unfair treatment of overweight people, make weight bias an unacceptable form of prejudice, similar to bias in the context of race or gender, and prevent some of the social, economic and medical consequences of obesity. Weight bias has major implications in employment. Compared to job applicants with the same qualifications, obese applicants are rated more negatively and are less likely to be hired, Bell, (2006). Obese applicants are also perceived to be unfit for jobs involving face-to-face interactions with clients. In addition, overweight and obese applicants are viewed as having poor self-discipline, low supervisory potential, poor personal hygiene, and less ambition and productivity, Larkin & Pines (1979). Nearly half, (43%), of overweight people report experiencing weight bias from employers and supervisors, Puhl & Brownell, (2001). A 2007 study of over 2,800 Americans found that overweight adults were 12 times more likely to experience weight-based employment

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