The University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity has conducted a study assessing public support for policies and laws that would prohibit discrimination based on weight. Rebecca M. Puhl, et al., “Potential Policies and Laws to Prohibit Weight Discrimination: Public Views from 4 Countries,” The Milbank Quarterly, December 2015.

In an online survey, the researchers questioned 2,866 adults in the United States, Canada, Australia and Iceland about their opinions on several policy measures related to weight discrimination, including (i) “adding body weight to existing civil rights statutes,” (ii) “extending disability protections to persons with obesity,” and (iii) “instituting legal measures to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because of body weight.”

The propositions with the most support referred to protection of employees from discriminatory practices in hiring and wage determinations. A majority of respondents in the United States and Canada supported the inclusion of weight discrimination in federal civil rights laws, while 21.2 percent of Icelandic respondents expressed the same opinion.

“Weight discrimination is a social injustice and a public health issue that remains widespread,” Rebecca Puhl, the study’s lead author, said in a December 2, 2015, press release. “Understanding the public mindset about this problem is critical to help identify what kinds of policy actions should be prioritized.”