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.