Discrimination against obese people

Other Names:
Weigh discrimination
Prejudicial treatment of the overweight
Active prejudice towards fat people
Negative attitudes toward obesity
Fat discrimination

Overweight people may encounter discrimination based on standards of weight established arbitrarily by the fashion, entertainment and health industries. They may be publicly humiliated, refused social opportunities, or blamed for perceived excesses. They are less likely to be hired, particularly for jobs with high visibility: employers believe fat people not only reflect badly on an organization's image but they are also less likely to be good at their jobs. It is generally assumed, although with little scientific basis, that overweight people lack self-control and willpower, and that they are more frequently ill.


In 1993 the American equal employment opportunities commission declared that obesity may, in appropriate circumstances, constitute a disability and as such would qualify for the same protection for discrimination afforded to more conventionally disabled workers. This protection would however only apply to those suffering from morbid obesity, namely to those at least twice the normal weight for their height. Obese Americans have initiated court cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act, demanding larger seats in public services.

In the UK, some National Health Trusts will not hire anyone with a body mass index over 25. Studies in the UK, USA and Finland indicate that overweight women are more likely to be unemployed or have a low income. UK women in the top 10% of the bodyweight range earned 7% les than their non-overweight peers by the age of 23.

Some airlines require obese people to book two seats.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST