White working women, want a pay raise? Lose weight

SPENCER PLATT/Getty Images The United States acknowledges and accepts that it has a weight problem. Obesity has become a serious national issue, with a quarter of the U.S. population considered obese. Health professionals have even spoken out against stigmatizing obese people. It’s surprising, then, that obese people—white women specifically—are discriminated against where it arguably hurts ...

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597462_071228_obesity_05.jpg
NEW YORK - MAY 15: Two overweight women walk together along Times Square May 15, 2003 in New York City. According to a new study, the U.S. spends upwards of $93 billion annually to treat health problems related to obesity. Americans are heavier than ever before, making the U.S. one of the most overweight countries in the world. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

SPENCER PLATT/Getty Images

The United States acknowledges and accepts that it has a weight problem. Obesity has become a serious national issue, with a quarter of the U.S. population considered obese. Health professionals have even spoken out against stigmatizing obese people. It's surprising, then, that obese people—white women specifically—are discriminated against where it arguably hurts the most: in their paychecks.

According to a recent study by David Lempert of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a "statistically significant continual increase in the wage penalty for overweight and obese white women followed throughout two decades." And the trend has increased, even as more Americans have become obese. One way to look at it, the author of the study writes, is that "the increasing rarity of thinness has led to its rising premium."

SPENCER PLATT/Getty Images

The United States acknowledges and accepts that it has a weight problem. Obesity has become a serious national issue, with a quarter of the U.S. population considered obese. Health professionals have even spoken out against stigmatizing obese people. It’s surprising, then, that obese people—white women specifically—are discriminated against where it arguably hurts the most: in their paychecks.

According to a recent study by David Lempert of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a “statistically significant continual increase in the wage penalty for overweight and obese white women followed throughout two decades.” And the trend has increased, even as more Americans have become obese. One way to look at it, the author of the study writes, is that “the increasing rarity of thinness has led to its rising premium.”

Moreover, as overweight white women age, their wages suffer correspondingly more over time as they get passed over for promotions and raises. It’s an alarming finding in a country that is supposedly all about non-discrimination in the workplace.

(Hat tip: New Economist

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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