[guest post by Dana]
There is a move afoot to seek federal protection for yet another group. It’s difficult to keep up with the expanding list and at some point in time, one wonders what won’t be added.
New research shows that most Americans support policies that address weight discrimination. In fact, approximately 3 out of 4 individuals support efforts to add body weight as a protected class under Civil Rights laws, and the majority of those surveyed (at least 60%) are supportive of other policy efforts to address weight discrimination across the nation.
The study, led by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and published in the research journal Obesity, the official journal of The Obesity Society (TOS), is the first to document a positive change in public attitudes toward legal measures to address weight discrimination.
“More than two-thirds of adults in the United States are affected by overweight or obesity, meaning they are also vulnerable to the stigma and discrimination that these proposed policies and laws would help prevent,” said study author Rebecca Puhl, PhD, Rudd Center deputy director and co-author of the study. “Rates of weight discrimination are comparable with rates of racial discrimination, especially for women, and are seen across multiple domains, from healthcare and employment to media and personal relationships. We’re hopeful that identifying these trends in support of action to end weight discrimination can provide backing for current and future policy efforts.”
According to the paper, from 2011 — 2013 researchers observed a 7% increase in support for disability protections for those affected by obesity or overweight (61% in 2011 to 69% in 2013) and a 6% increase for adding body weight as a protected class in Civil Rights statutes (70% in 2011 to 76% in 2013).
As for reasons behind the observed increase in support for action, Dr. Puhl points to the American Medical Association designation of obesity as a disease in 2013 — and the resulting national media attention — as a possible force in moving the needle, but adds: “We still have a long way to go. Reducing weight discrimination requires shifting societal attitudes and challenging stigma in multiple settings.”
It’s interesting to note Dr. Puhl discusses reducing weight discrimination, but not reducing weight. If, as some believe, the stigma of obesity/overweight is so damaging and debilitating that we need federal protection laws, perhaps someone should inform Charles Barkley of this. Because a public figure fat shaming is clearly unacceptable!
When taken to the woodshed by viewers, Barkley dug in. The only option? Obviously, intensive sensitivity training and federal protection for the offended.
And while we’re at it, I am a left-handed conservative with a Morton’s toe – where’s my protection??