Why Weight Discrimination Doesn't Work

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • In a prior article, Will Overweight Employees Be Punished?, I wrote about a discriminatory tactic used by employers that were lowering the boom on overweight and obese employees. The idea is to punish those employees by using surcharges, such as increased insurance premiums if they are not able to meet the company definition of health. In other words, slim down fatso or papa is gonna put you across his knee.

    I also mentioned that such tactics have a history of not working. Making people feel bad about their appearance under the guise of trying to be helpful will only result in failing to meet the asserted goal of motivating those people to lose weight. As a matter of fact, a new study finds that getting people to feel bad about their bodies only results in people becoming obese or staying obese. 

    Weight Discrimination

    The American stereotype of overweight and obese people is that they are lazy and unsuccessful (sorry Santa Claus, you’re a loser). The negative attitudes, discrimination, and verbal or physical abuses directed at those who are overweight or obese often can lead to depression, poor self-esteem, poor self-acceptance, and poor quality of life. 

    Obese and overweight people are often discriminated against in areas of employment, salary, and health care. The abusive behaviors and attitudes leveled against this population results in an exacerbation of the problem. Coping behaviors of the obese and overweight include problematic eating and evading exercise. In addition, adults who believe that the stereotypes about obesity are accurate are more likely to binge eat.

    A sample of 6,157 participants drawn from the Health and Retirement Study showed a 2.5 times greater likelihood for obesity among those who reported episodes of weight discrimination than among those who did not report weight discrimination. The results were determined by comparing an individual’s baseline weight with his weight at a follow-up point.

    Fat Shaming

    Fat shaming is the term used to define the ignorant and cruel practice of ridiculing an individual about their body image. Attempts to justify this abuse focus on the contention that it will motivate a person to lose weight.         
    Online labeling of a person as a heifer and waste of space while suggesting she kill herself can never be qualified as motivational, even in a dictionary of the absurd.

    Fat shaming is simply one of the last socially accepted forms of discrimination. As such, abuses become prevalent, including the targeting of overweight and obese employees by employers for special punishments due to their physical condition. There is little outcry about any of this because we continue to enforce the stereotypes that fat people are second-class and deserve what they get.

    Whereas 70 percent of the population in the United States is overweight and one-third is obese, when some one says that a fat person is deserving of any discriminatory ills that can be heaped upon him, it might very well be you who he is talking about.

    Living life well-fed,  

    My Bariatric Life


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Published On: December 10, 2013