Employers less likely to hire fat people

Recruiters said they would be less inclined to recruit an applicant at interview stage if they were obese.


JOHANNESBURG - You are less likely to be hired if you are overweight or obese, according to a recent UK study.

Labour lawyer at Bagraims Attorneys, Gregory Duncan, spoke to the Money Show about the issue.

But Duncan says in South Africa there are protection laws against discrimination.

"If you can prove that you're being discriminated against because you're fat then you have a case. Having said that, it would be a difficult case for the prospective employee because how would they prove it?"

The study, which examined the attitudes of 1,000 British employers, found that nearly half of the recruiters said they would be less inclined to recruit an applicant at interview stage if they are obese.

People who are overweight are perceived to be less productive and are less likely to be hired for jobs, according to the study.

The labour lawyer says the type of position to be filled would also play a role.

"When an employer puts out a post, they have requirements. For example, a fat cop can't chase down criminals so that would be justified."

The study also found that almost a third of the employers questioned said they were worried about the potential costs to the business to accommodate the side-effects of overweight staff.


Last year a study found that nearly three quarters of South Africans are overweight and the country ranks third in a list of the world's most obese nations behind the US and Mexico.

An increase in disposable income among a rapidly growing middle-class in developing nations such as South Africa is leading to unhealthy overeating, prompting a spike in diabetes, hypertension and strokes.

South Africa is a striking example of a problem that is spreading in developing countries, where 60 percent of the world's obese people live, a January study by the London-based Overseas Development Institute found.

The number of overweight people in developing countries has more than tripled in less than three decades, from 250 million, to nearly 1 billion in 2008, the study found.