Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Obese Persons Experience Discrimination in the Workplace

Although there may be disagreement as to how much discrimination affects a person's life, most people would probably agree that discrimination plays some role in all parts of society, including the workplace. The discrimination may be based on an individual’s color, religion, race, national origin, religion, disability, or some other characteristic. And many organizations object to discriminatory activities directed at individuals who possess any of these characteristics. But obesity is typically not one of the characteristics listed on non-discrimination lists. But obese persons are discriminated against in society, including the workplace.

Whether we admit it or not, most of us realize that obese people are discriminated against in the workplace. But we accept it, to some extent, because we feel that obese people have indirectly made a choice to be obese by engaging in lifestyle behavior that contributes to obesity. 

However, many experts now believe that obesity is a chronic illness. And at some point in being overweight, the body fights weight loss and weight-loss maintenance. So, obese people have a very difficult time losing and maintaining weight loss. Still, obese persons face discrimination. And this discrimination can negatively affect a person's workplace experience.

One study done in Canada shows that obese persons receive less support from their fellow workers in the workplace. Another study indicated that obese people are less likely to be hired and less likely to be promoted in the workplace. And a more recent study indicates that obese people make less money than those of normal weight.

The study was done in England at the University of Exeter. The researchers compared normal weight individuals with obese individuals in the workplace to determine if obesity played a major role in the salary difference. After filtering out factors from the results such as education, experience and background, the researchers concluded that normal weight individuals had higher salaries than obese workers. And in another study done in Sweden, “men who are obese at the age of 18 grow to earn 16% less than their peers of more average weight.”

So, obese persons experience discrimination in society and in the workplace. And this discrimination can have a negative impact on an obese person’s life and career. Healthcare providers need to be aware of this discrimination so that they can treat the obese patient with understanding and compassion.

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