FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Academy for Eating Disorders
Newswise — Reston, VA, [November 16, 2017] – The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) has joined with a coalition of associations in an appeal to the Massachusetts legislature to request their support of An Act Making Discrimination Based on Height and Weight Unlawful (Massachusetts H.952). The bill, which was introduced by Massachusetts Representative and Assistant Majority Leader Byron Rushing, would make it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of height or weight. The bill specifically identifies discrimination occurring in the workplace, such as in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, and in housing and public accommodations to be made unlawful.
Currently, only Michigan has a statewide law prohibiting employment discrimination based on weight. Some cities and districts, such as San Francisco and the District of Columbia, have local laws concerning weight discrimination. However, few broader regulations exist, even though weight stigma and discrimination have been shown to be linked to negative mental and physical health consequences, including psychological depression, eating pathology, and physiological stress.
Thus, if passed into law, the Massachusetts legislation would help pave the way in reducing this common and dangerous form of discrimination. According to Dr. Bryn Austin, Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Director of the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders, and AED Secretary, “Discrimination based on weight and height is commonplace in society, but in all U.S. states but one, this is completely legal. With the exception of Michigan, no U.S. states have statutes in place to prevent weight discrimination in areas of housing, employment, or public accommodations. Mounting research evidence indicates that this type of discrimination has countless negative effects on health and well-being, including the development and exacerbation of eating disorders. With H.952, Massachusetts can join Michigan as leaders in protecting individuals against weight discrimination. The passage of H.952 will be another step toward the prevention of eating disorders as well as the eradication of the social and economic injustices that weight discrimination carries with it.” In the written comments filed by AED and the coalition of other organizations with the MA Legislature, the point was made that “Research surveying 1000 American adults indicated substantial support for laws to prohibit weight discrimination in the workplace.”
As a leading organization in the field of eating disorders, the AED is committed to helping ensure early diagnosis and appropriate care for individuals with eating disorders, and recognizes that cultural practices, such as weight discrimination, can inhibit an individual from accepting the need for treatment. Therefore, the AED encourages legislators around the world to pursue anti-discrimination law as an evidence-based policy for ensuring equality across all body shapes and sizes.
The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) is an international professional association committed to the leadership in eating disorders research, education, treatment, and prevention. The goal of the AED is to provide global access to knowledge, research, and best treatment practice for eating disorders. For additional information, please contact Elissa Myers at (703) 626-9087 and visit the AED website at www.aedweb.org.