Discrimination against fat people, particularly women, is as common as racial bias, says a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.
According to study's lead author, Rebecca Puhl, the study shows the need to treat weight discrimination as a legitimate form of prejudice, comparable to other characteristics like race or gender that already receive legal protection.
"These results show the need to treat weight discrimination as a legitimate form of prejudice, comparable to other characteristics like race or gender that already receive legal protection," said Puhl.
The study documented the prevalence of self-reported weight discrimination and compared it to experiences of discrimination based on race and gender among a nationally representative sample of adults aged 25- to 74-years-old.
For the research, the data was obtained from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States.
The study also revealed that women are twice as likely as men to report weight discrimination and that weight discrimination in the workplace and interpersonal mistreatment due to obesity is common.
The researchers found that men are not at serious risk for weight bias until their body mass index (BMI) reaches 35 or higher, while women begin experiencing a notable increase in weight discrimination risk at a BMI level of 27.
BMI (Body Mass Index) is the measure of body fat based on height and weight.
Co-author Tatiana Andreyava of Yale said weight discrimination is more prevalent than discrimination based on sexual orientation, nationality/ethnicity, physical disability, and religious beliefs.
"However, despite its high prevalence, it continues to remain socially acceptable," she said.
The study is published in International Journal of Obesity.