Effects of Obesity in the Workforce Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

America has been built on the idea that thin is attractive and capable, while fat is ugly and lazy. Morbid obesity is a growing problem in the United States. News channels have done stories about the nation's problem with weight and diet fads abound.

Whether it is South Beach, Atkins, bypass surgery, or weight watchers, the message is clear. If one wants to improve one's life, lose the fat. Morbid obesity is a serious health problem. The complications from the condition can not be denied. People who are morbidly obese not only suffer from the health consequences of their size, but often suffer from self-esteem issues because of what they believe society thinks about them based on their size.

This paper will explore a research proposal that will address the issue of societal attitude toward the morbidly obese. It will explore whether morbidly obese participants have felt discriminated against and if they felt they were viewed as lazy or unproductive. It will try and locate evidence of such discrimination through the research instrument and it will use a literature review to set the foundation for the study.



Statement of the Problem

Literature Review



Statement of the Problem

The morbidly obese have struggled for years with health issues. Recently it has been alleged that they are also being discriminated against in the workforce. It has been alleged that the morbidly obese are treated differently than the non-obese because the morbidly obese are thought to be lazy and a financial risk due to their size.

Health insurance, sick days and other financial risks may cause employers not to hire the morbidly obese. Beliefs about this population outside of health issues may also prevent the hiring and advancement of the morbidly obese. It is important to study whether or not the morbidly obese are actually being discriminated against so that future decisions can be made about disability payments, discrimination laws and other important areas.

Literature Review

America promotes thinness. It is on television, in magazines and evidenced by the number of fitness centers and diet companies throughout the nation. Those who are morbidly obese are viewed as lazy, with no self-control. Research concludes that there are legal, psychological and employment issues that surround the morbidly obese.

A substantial body of research suggests that bias against overweight individuals is pervasive in western cultures (Roehling, 1999). Overweight people are frequently stereotyped as emotionally impaired, socially handicapped, and as possessing negative personality traits (Crocker, Cornwell, & Major, 1993). They are denigrated by doctors, nurses, peers, small children, and even their parents (Crandall, 1994; Maroney & Golub, 1992). In recent years, the issue of discrimination in employment decisions based on body weight has been a topic of growing concern (e.g., Laabs, 1995; Lippman, 1998). Several factors have contributed to this development, including the increased but uncertain legal protection offered by the Americans With Disabilities Act (Johnson & Wilson, 1995), the growing incidence of obesity (up 33% in the last decade, Berkow, 1997), employer concern about healthcare and related costs (Zablocki, 1998), and the fact that employees who feel that they have been the victims of weight-based discrimination have begun seeking redress in courts in increasing numbers (Roehling, 1999)."

According to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company weight norms dictate whether someone is to be considered obese. According to their tables obesity is defined as:

mildly obese (20%-40% over ideal weight), moderately obese (41%-99% over ideal weight), morbidly obese (100% or more over ideal weight) (Roehling, 1999)."

Studies conducted by researchers have provided significant evidence of discrimination against the morbidly obese. Studies have located discrimination on every level of employment from management down to workers (Roehling, 1999).

Evidence of weight-based discrimination is found in both laboratory and field settings, but with less consistency in the findings of the latter (Roehling, 1999)."

Another study found that people rate morbidly obese employees as less capable in certain positions than their non-obese counterparts. One study found that the general population gave obese people lower ratings for being able to perform in outside sales jobs due to their appearance. This study is important because it supports the theory that obese people are discriminated against in the workplace (Roehling, 1999).

The studies that have concluded the obese are discriminated against have provided suggestions for improvement including reasonable accommodations for those who are morbidly obese…

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