Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
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Rudd Radar

Women Face Significant Weight Related Bullying and Discrimination

May 1, 2014

Weight related bullying and discrimination are significant problems faced by women today, according to a recent opinion study by SheByShe, a women’s opinion site dedicated to sharing what women think about important issues.   

SheByShe conducted an online survey of over 700 women ages 25-64 years old.  The sample consisted of married and single women, working and non-working women, and women with varying income levels. 

Over half of those women who participated in the survey said they have been the victim of weight-related bullying at least once in their lives. Most of the bullying was related to being overweight, although nearly 25 percent said incidents happened because they were underweight.

According to the women surveyed, much of the bullying occurred while they were children or teenagers and the bullies were most commonly other children, teenagers or family members.  The women asserted that the bullying caused lifelong emotional and physical harm.

In addition, 15 percent of survey respondents have suffered from weight-related discrimination or prejudice. Most of these incidents involve not receiving a job offer, while being well qualified for the job, or not receiving deserved promotions.

These survey results are all too familiar; unfortunately women are highly vulnerable to bullying and discrimination because of their weight,” said Rebecca M. Puhl, PhD, Deputy Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. “No one should suffer from this kind of treatment and, as the stories from these women show, weight-based victimization and bullying have a lasting and damaging impact. We need to continue to shine a light on this prevalent problem and increase efforts to eliminate weight bias.”

The Rudd Center offers information and resources on weight related bullying and discrimination.