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Affirmative action for the obese

Reverse systematic discrimination.
  (+3, -8)(+3, -8)
(+3, -8)
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In the US, it is illegal to discriminate against a person because of that persons gender, race, religion, and in many places now, sexual preference. It remains acceptible to discriminate against the obese. There is good evidence that obesity leads to decrease in earning potential and socioeconomic status. This discrimination is endemic and because of the nature of obesity, many who are otherwise quite enlightened feel justified in their discriminatory statements and actions.

Although there continue to be debates about the value of "affirmative action" and preferential hiring / enrollment policies, I think that they have done some good - or at least brought discussion of discrimination to the table. I propose the same could be done to help reverse the effects of discrimination against the obese. This could either be done an a manner analogous to that done for other discriminated groups with absolute idenitifiers (eg: black, female). Alternatively, since obesity is a continuum, the degree of obesity might be taken into account by educators and employers.

bungston, Nov 24 2007

Obesity is linked to later socioeconomic disadvantage http://content.nejm...t/short/329/14/1008
Obesity made more of an inpact on women than men in this study. [bungston, Nov 24 2007]


       Could you clarify exactly what this idea is? You want firms to be encouraged to hire obese people, or you want them to take obesity into account when hiring? From the main title I am assuming the former.   

       There is still an open question about why the earning potential of an obese person is limited. Is it because that person is not hired, or because of other factors such as a lower self esteem which leads the person not to apply in the first place?   

       Obesity is associated with a number of physiological and psychological changes in addition to the obvious physical aspects. This makes it very hard to distinguish discrimination from de facto degradation in performance.   

       There are also socioeconomic factors at play as those in the lower classes and lower economic brackets are, by virtue of culture, lifestyle and diet, more likely to become obese. If we look at it from that angle, affirmative action may help them deal with their obesity from an economic standpoint however under pie theory there will always be someone in the lower group who will tend towards obesity in his place.   

       I believe that the first point which needs to be established in whether obese persons are discriminated against because of their obesity or because of other underlying factors which may cause or be caused by obesity.   

       In general I agree wholeheartedly that there should not be discrimination by employers or educators against those who are obese. This applies particularly to television personalities, dancers, air hostesses and the like who fail to reflect the general range of obesity as found in the general population; and in these cases specifically I would welcome legal action.   

       There are two things about obesity which does differentiate it from gender and race. First, obesity can be controlled and cured given will power and appropriate support. Second, obese people are at an increased personal health risk.   

       These do make a difference. The fact that obesity can be dealt with given sufficient will power and support leads to its use as a character trait in the same way as many companies actively discriminate against hiring smokers on the basis of them having poor self control and resolve.   

       Increased personal health risk also makes a difference which needs noting. Insurance companies have charged more for obese persons for some time now in recognition of this. Hiring an obese person does present the possibility to an employer of someone who might take excessive numbers of day sick leave or even pass away unexpectedly.   

       What might be a good part of this idea is if this affirmative action is not based upon making sure obese people are hired but instead upon fair hiring (no affirmative action there) followed by a company-sponsored exercise and weight loss programme provided free to obese members of staff in order that their obesity can be managed and cured.   

       There are fine lines everywhere around us, but it may well be that obesity lies very close to being a legitimate factor for discrimination.
vincevincevince, Nov 24 2007

       //Obesity is a seriously disabling medical condition, is it not?// So is being confined to a wheelchair. But that doesn't make it okay to discriminate against the wheelchair bound.
vincevincevince, Nov 24 2007

       But obesity prejudice is not an "enduring" handicap. As more and more people become obese, the prejudice might someday flip to discrimination against thin people since thin will be the minority. It's difficult to legislate for a moving target.
phundug, Nov 24 2007

       This is a very stupid idea. There are many jobs an obese person cannot perform, there are many jobs an obese person cannot perform without special arrangements.   

       You knew this.   

       Obesity comes from having a bad lifestyle (or a bad disease in which case you could go see the docter). In some places a whole society has a bad lifestyle on average: many people are obese. Fight this with good ideas instead.   

       Oh, and by the way, there is only one human race. Creatures are said to be of different race when there is no possibility of offspring.
zeno, Nov 24 2007

       Actually, what you quote is close to the biological definition of "species", not "race" - I wonder whether those got mixed up.
Some people argue that human groups are so similar genetically that talking about race is bogus on the face of it; but that's a separate conclusion based on genetic similarity in general, not on the possibility or impossibility of interbreeding.
jutta, Nov 24 2007

       Firstly, I feel sorry for the 0.1% of fat people that actually have some mediacal problem which they cannot do anything about. I think they should have a card stating that fact which they can show to people if they choose.   

       Everyone else has made a choice. I may respect them less for that choice, or more (a person hiring someone may also be a fatty).   

       Being fat does say something about your personality, it gives hints as to your level of motivation and your priorities. Again this could be viewed either way by employers.
marklar, Nov 25 2007

       /Being fat does say something about your personality/ [marklar]   

       /Hiring an obese person does present the possibility to an employer of someone who might take excessive numbers of day sick leave or even pass away unexpectedly./[vince^3]   


       /Obesity comes from having a bad lifestyle/[zeno]   

       Obesity may be the result of lifestyle choice, but this is also true of religion. Certainly members of one religion could label the lifestyle of a memeber of another religion "bad" and extrapolate that this individual would make bad choices on the job. Those who discriminate against a person because he does not pray in a certain way could and do point out that it is easy and harmless to pray in the correct way along with the majority group, and that the only reason an individual might decline to pray in this way is obstinancy and flawed character.   

       The argument that obesity presents health risks that might be incurred by the employer might also be used as an argument against hiring gay men, as gay men are as a group statistically at a higher risk to contract HIV. Can group probabilities of this sort justify discrimination against individuals?
bungston, Nov 26 2007

       How about we all just forget about it.
Thirty years ago there were fat people and there were skinny people, and there were people with brown hair and people with blond hair, and so what? Society as a whole is becoming increasingly intolerant of an ever greater variety of things, creating the perceived need for "affirmative actions" of one sort or another. I think this is probably why there aren't any advanced civilisations out there. They develop intolerance and become clonal and extinct.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 26 2007

       Yes, I did get race and species mixed up. In my language, dutch, there is only one word:ras. So to speak of more than one human ras is wrong. I assumed it was also the case in english. So do english speaking people who are not racist(strange word) also speak of different human races?
zeno, Nov 26 2007

       //So do english speaking people who are not racist(strange word) also speak of different human races?//   

       Yes, in so far as the phrase 'racial equality' is (I think) normally understood as 'equality between races'. If, instead, you read it as 'equality within the (human) race', then the phrase would lose any sense of what kind of discrimination it was trying to exclude.
pertinax, Nov 26 2007

       I have a cousin that lost over 100 lbs. When I asked him how he did it, he said "I stopped eating so f-ing much!"   

       Diet secrets revealed!
longdecember79, Nov 29 2007

       I am very pleased that this idea does not refer to weighting an individual's vote.
4whom, Nov 29 2007

       I wish they would take affirmative action to help obese people be less fat.
travbm, Nov 05 2015


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