Obese people who undergo weight-reducing bariatric surgery are less likely to be hired than those who have lost weight through exercise and dieting, new research has found.
This might be because obese people are often regarded as lazy and undisciplined, and because of the long-held belief that body weight can largely be controlled through diet and exercise, the researchers noted.
The findings suggest that stigma associated with obesity continues even after people lose weight.
"Weight stigma is impacted by the method of weight loss for formerly obese individuals, not just obese individuals," said Robert Carels from East Carolina University in the US.
"While bariatric surgery often results in sustained long-term weight loss, increased efforts are needed to reduce stigma associated with bariatric surgery," Carels added.
Job discrimination is just one of the stigmas faced by obese people who undergo weight-reducing bariatric surgery, Carels noted.
To investigate how such beliefs might influence people’s employability, Carels’ team asked 154 participants to rate their impressions of a woman.
They were shown two photographs: On the first she was of normal weight, and on the second she was overweight.
While being shown the second photograph, participants read different scenarios about how she previously gained and then lost weight.
Participants were less willing to hire someone who had lost weight through surgery rather than through a change in lifestyle and behaviour.
The study was published in the journal Obesity Surgery.