A new study from researchers at LinkedIn suggests workers who are overweight get paid less than their slimmer counterparts.
The findings are part of a survey involving 4,000 workers in the United Kingdom.
Survey respondents who classified as obese reported earning an average £1,940 ($2,512) less per year than those with healthy BMIs, according to the study. Twenty-five percent of overweight individuals — and one-third who were obese — said they believed their size held them back from a promotion. More than half (53 percent) of overweight workers said they felt left out of their work teams due to their weight.
The disparities were even larger when considering age and gender. According to the survey, obese or overweight women are more likely to receive a lower salary than men of the same weight. That gender gap, the study found, was £8,919 ($11,547).
Younger workers aged 16-24 feel the most self-conscious about their weight in the workplace.
Plus-size bloggers like Stephanie Yeboah and Lottie L’Amour are working to transform the conversation and increase awareness of prejudices obese and overweight individuals face in the workplace.
“The LinkedIn community has a number of groups and discussions on this topic, and we are pleased Stephanie and Lottie are opening up the conversation,” LinkedIn spokesperson Ngaire Moyes told Insider. "We hope more members will be encouraged to take part in the discussion about how it affects them and how size bias can be tackled."
This isn’t the first study to highlight pay differences based on a worker’s weight.
“Prior studies generally have found that obese workers have lower wages and that the wage reductions cannot be explained by variation in worker productivity,” according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. “The underlying implication is that obese workers, particularly women, face significant labor market discrimination.”
A survey of 500 hiring professionals last year even found that being overweight can weigh down career prospects. When the professionals were shown an image of an overweight woman and asked if they’d consider hiring her, only 15.6 percent said they would. About 20 percent even characterized the woman as lazy or unprofessional.
“The standards for physical appearance are stricter for women than men,” Kelly Brownell, the dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, told Moneyish. “Women are more likely to be evaluated on their physical appearance.”
Researchers in 2010 found that “very heavy” women made $19,000 less than their colleagues of “average weight.” Those who were “very thin” earned $22,000 more, on average. The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, also found that a weight gain of 25 pounds was associated with an annual salary decrease of $14,000 per year.
More than 2.2 billion people around the world — about a third of the planet’s population — are estimated to be overweight. And 10 percent of the global population is considered obese.
Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index between 25 and 29.9. Obese individuals have a BMI above 30.
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