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Discrimination Against Obese People

Discrimination against obese people shouldn’t happen! Unfortunately, it does and will happen, in the workplace, on public transport, at the shopping mall, in everyday life, even at the doctor’s office!

Obese individuals may or may not consume more than the recommended daily calorie intake, but life insurance companies charge them premiums that are two to four times more than a thin person. They have higher medical expenses, and earn less cash and fewer promotions within the workplace. Even individuals who are only 30 to 40 pounds overweight can be seriously discriminated against.

This being the case, it is not surprising that depression is common in overweight and obese individuals. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight and been unable to, you know exactly what I am saying. You already feel like a failure and then you get treated like a failure by the words and actions of other people. Obese people get treated differently! People assume that you sit around watching tv and eating cookies and chocolate all day, and munching out on burgers and fries for dinner every night even when that’s not the case at all. Even doctors say that all you need to do is lose weight and all your problems will be resolved… Sheesh!!!

I have a friend who is five foot tall and about 250 lbs, yet she is NOT a big eater, in fact, she only eats very small meals, doesn’t eat many carbohydrates and very rarely eats fatty or fried foods and sweet foods. She’s very active and her calorie intake is only about 1200 per day. Unfortunately, she has a metabolism that takes absolutely every bit of goodness out of everything she eats and her body is slow in burning the calories. Basically, her body is constantly in famine mode where it conserves calories rather than burning them. Of course, she receives a lot of discrimination

You probably find yourself wishing that those who treat you like this could ‘walk a mile in your shoes’ just once in their lives so they could understand. For a few that’s all they would need. Unfortunately, there are others who need much more than that. It’s not easy being obese, either physically or emotionally. Being obese makes everything tougher. You want to exercise to lose weight, but you try and you can’t lift the same weight as others and you become discouraged at the lack of immediate results. Not to say feeling like others are pointing at you and laughing.

Have you ever ever had to travelled on an plane as an obese person? Did they charge you for 2 seats? How embarrassing right? Some movie theaters do the same thing! It’s just not fair!

If you’re young enough to be in high school and are obese, have you experienced difficulty finding a college that will accept you based on your test scores and grade point average? Simply another kind of discrimination against obese people. And those obese people who do make it to college usually have to go it alone financially since it is difficult to be accepted for education scholarships.

On the employment front, things have improved slightly solely as a result of obesity being so common these days compared to previous decades. This may make it easier to find employment but it won’t stop discrimination, especially for women who tend to be paid less than men, including obese men. No matter how hard an obese person works, promotions are rare. Anti discrimination laws haven’t really succeeded in eradicating the problem, since companies simply award positions to which candidate they like, and if that happens to be a slim person there is nothing that can be done, unless you can prove you are better qualified than that person which is almost impossible to do.

Doctors discriminate also. Have you ever noticed that your doctor very doesn’t understand how to deal with you? Doctors understand the risks of obesity but frequently don’t do much more than advise you to lose weight. They tend to blame any health issues you have on your weight but don’t provide any recommendations on how to lose weight, even when asked directly. Being obese is dangerous enough for your health without having to deal with medical discrimination as well.

Dealing with the prejudices and discrimination of society can be difficult. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) defines a “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, breathing, learning, or working), a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. “Substantially limits” means that an impairment prevents a person from performing a major life activity or significantly restricts the person’s ability to perform the activity as compared to the ability of the average person in the general population. The EEOC has stated that morbid obesity is an impairment, but this does not mean that it is a disability. Whether a person with morbid obesity has a disability depends on whether that particular person is substantially limited in a major life activity, has a history of being substantially limited, or is regarded as being substantially limited. Obviously, some obese individuals can be classed as disabled, in which case they are covered by the anti discrimination laws.

Check out the EEOC website if you feel you have been unfairly discriminated against. Alternatively, for those outside the US, look for equal opportunity or anti discrimination laws in your own country.