January 15, 2010 / 12:57 PM / 9 years ago

"Lazy" obese workers face office discrimination

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Overweight people miss out on jobs and are overlooked for promotion because employers think they are lazy, according to a British weight-loss organization.

A man walks near the river Thames in London, September 23, 2009. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Those who are very overweight are twice as likely to earn a low salary, four times more likely to suffer bullying about their weight and six times more likely to feel their appearance has caused them to miss out on a promotion, Slimming World said in a statement on its website.

Slimming World Head of Nutrition and Research Jacquie Lavin said the survey was one of the greatest indications yet of the scale of obesity discrimination in the workplace.

“It’s unfortunate that only 16 percent of people who are obese feel supported by their work colleagues in their efforts to lose weight and disappointing that one in four say they have suffered negative comments about their weight while at work,” she said.

More than 2,000 British adults over the age of 18 were surveyed by pollsters YouGov in the study for Slimming World. Of these, 227 were employers.

Respondents were asked to comment on their attitudes toward obesity in the workplace. Their responses were matched to their size measured according to a calculation of height and weight known as the Body Mass Index (BMI).

The survey found that people in the highest weight category (BMI 40+) were four times more likely to “never” feel confident and twice as likely to dread applying for a new job.

Male employers were particularly prejudicial. One in four of the surveyed male bosses say they would turn down a potential candidate because of their weight and one in 10 admitted to having already done so.

Slimming World highlighted the case of its Man of the Year Roberto Enrieu who lost his IT consultant job.

“My confidence was shattered and as a very overweight person looking for work I was faced with a huge amount of prejudice,” he said in the statement this month.

Enrieu subsequently lost 159 kg (350 lb) on a slimming regimen and has since become a swimming instructor.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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