Does Obesity Affect Workplace Discrimination?

Multiple studies show that obese people are more likely to experience discrimination in the workplace than those who are at a healthy weight. For example, one study showed that almost 90 percent of obese people are regularly turned down for jobs because of their weight, and another showed that obese workers were more than 45 times as likely to report workplace discrimination. The discrimination tends to increase with weight — severely obese people were more than 100 times as likely to report workplace discrimination.

More on weight discrimination:

  • Doctors and nurses tend to discriminate against overweight patients as well. One study found that about one-fourth of nurses reported being "repulsed" by obese patients. Other studies have shown that doctors, nurses and dietitians tend to think that obese people are lazy, lack self-control and are obese because of character flaws.

  • Anti-obesity tendencies show up even in very young children. Children as young as age 6 describe silhouettes of obese children as "lazy, dirty, stupid and ugly" and think that they are more likely to cheat and lie about things.

  • Obese women tend to experience more discrimination than obese men. One study found that about 15 percent of employers said they would not hire an obese woman under any circumstances, while almost half said they would not hire an obese woman in certain circumstances. Another study showed that obese women were 16 times more likely to report job discrimination than obese men were.
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