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Prejudice and Obesity - Have You Been a Victim?

It's a sad comment on human nature that prejudice and obesity go hand in hand. Ask any person who has battled with obesity and they'll be able to reel off a list of examples.

It begins at school, where some children have a knack of singling out anyone who's different from the rest for bullying and taunting. Children who are more overweight than their classmates are easy targets.

If they also happen to be of a different ethnic background from the majority of their classmates, their lives can become especially unpleasant.

Sadly, this attitude does not end when the child leaves school. Research has shown that prejudice and obesity is very much a fact of life in the workplace.

--The Sad Story of Mr X--

In a society obsessed with unrealistic ideals of how we should look, overweight job applicants have an especially tough time breaking into the job market. A typical story of prejudice and obesity in the workplace goes like this...

Mr X applies in writing for a job. The company replies positively to his letter by asking for a more detailed resume.

Then, Mr X receives an enthusiastic phone call asking him to come in for an interview. It's clear from the tone of the call and various other hints dropped by the caller that the interview is really just a formality, that Mr X is clearly the best qualified candidate.

But all this changes come the day of the interview. The members of the interview panel refuse to meet Mr X's eye. The questions they ask are cursory. They shuffle and fidget when he speaks. It's obvious they're simply going through the motions.

When he leaves they shake his hand and thank him with enthusiasm bordering on relief. A week later he receives a form letter in the mail regretfully informing him that he was unsuccessful in his application.

Mr X is not surprised. He's gone through this charade a dozen times before.

Prejudice and obesity have an even more unpleasant face when they're paired with ethnic stereotypes - the grown up version of schoolyard taunts.

We've all heard the jokes about women of certain ethnic backgrounds ballooning after they've had children. They're mild compared to some of the other, supposedly funny, stories doing the rounds.

You can help to lift the lid on the scourge of obesity related prejudice.

Were you bullied as a child because you were overweight? Have you experienced prejudice in the workplace? Have you been the butt of an ethnic/obesity related joke? Or perhaps you've got an inspiring story about how you've overcome negative perceptions. Maybe you're a counsellor or website publisher with important insights. Visit and share your experience or advice. You could make a difference.

Alan Cooper is a journalist with 20 year's experience and the publisher of, a site with the ambitious aim of being a "one-stop-shop" for impartial information on obesity and weight loss solutions - including fad diets, prescription weightloss pills and natural weightloss aids.


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