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articles Behavior and Psychology nature publishing group Public Opinion About Laws to Prohibit Weight Discrimination in the United States

By Rebecca M. Puhl and Chelsea A. Heuer


Weight discrimination is pervasive in American society and impairs quality of life for obese persons. With approximately two-thirds of Americans now overweight or obese, vast numbers of people are vulnerable to weight prejudice and its consequences. Currently, no laws exist to prohibit weight discrimination. This study conducted an online survey with a national sample of 1,001 adults (representing demographics of the United States) to examine public support for six potential legislative measures to prohibit weight discrimination in the United States. Results indicated substantial support (65 % of men, 81 % of women) for laws to prohibit weight discrimination in the workplace, especially for legal measures that would prohibit employers from refusing to hire, terminate, or deny promotion based on a person’s body weight. Laws that proposed extending the same protections to obese persons as people with physical disabilities received the least support, suggesting that Americans may not be in favor of considering obesity as a disability. Findings also highlight specific predictors of support (related to sex, age, education, income, body weight, and political ideology). These findings can be used to inform policy makers in efforts to develop antidiscrimination laws. Such measures will rectify health disparities for overweight Americans and facilitate public health efforts to address obesity. Obesity (2011) 19, 74–82. doi:10.1038/oby.2010.12

Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1038/oby.2010.126
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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