We note the passing of the “destigmatizer of fat,” Dr. Albert J. Stunkard, who died at the age of 92.  The NYT obituary this week called him “a pioneer of eating-disorder research who proved that some people are genetically predisposed to getting fat,” whose “early work ignited an explosion of interest in the study of eating-related problems. … His work was widely credited with helping define a field of research that today is near the forefront of the public health agenda.”

While paying tribute, we also note Madasyn Cze­bi­n­iak’s article in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette which reported on a 2008 study by The Rudd Center for Food Pol­icy & Obe­s­ity at Yale Univer­sity which “found over­weight adults were 12 times more likely to re­port hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced weight-based em­ploy­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion than thin­ner per­sons. Of the study’‍s par­tic­i­pants, 60 per­cent ex­pe­ri­enced at least one oc­cur­rence of em­ploy­ment-based dis­crim­i­na­tion due to weight is­sues.”

Said Rebecca Puhl, dep­uty di­rec­tor at the Rudd Center:

“I think what’s safe to con­clude is that weight dis­crim­i­na­tion oc­curs at ev­ery stage of the em­ploy­ment cy­cle from get­ting hired to get­ting fired.  What we see in ex­per­i­men­tal stud­ies, for ex­am­ple, is that hir­ing pro­fes­sion­als are less likely to hire an over­weight can­di­date as op­posed to a thin­ner can­di­date with the ex­act same qual­i­fi­ca­tions.”

“Un­for­tu­nately, weight bias is alive and well,” according to the di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the Obe­s­ity Ac­tion Co­a­li­tion. According to its website:   “The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a nearly 50,000 member-strong 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization dedicated to giving a voice to the individual affected by the disease of obesity and helping individuals along their journey toward better health through education, advocacy and support.”


On July 9, 2012 we posted a piece entitled: Unattractiveness – The Next Workplace Protected Class? and said that “A lot has been written lately (in legal blogs, at least) about what some call “beauty bias” – but which we have recently called “appearance bias” — workplace bias based upon appearance. Obesity bias seems to be the most frequently observed manifestation of this.”

Later, on April 7, 2014 we noted a lot of comments on our post “‘Appearance DOES MATTER’ (at least in some jobs),” in which we quoted Sylvia Dahlby of Hawaii:   “In my opinion age and weight, and overall appearance are always a factor in hiring decisions – and maybe sometimes they need to be. Let’s face it, humans bring their personal prejudices into EVERY situation.”  Readers from all over, and from all professions, weighed in (sorry about that) — take a look at this earlier post, it was a good discussion.