The study, carried out by the Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy (IFAU), found that obese jobseekers have an 83 percent lower chance of landing a job compared with people of normal weight, Sveriges Radio (SR) reported.
Small companies are more likely to reject job candidates who are overweight, older, or have a history of health problems, while larger companies can more easily afford to “take a chance” during the recruitment process, said Uppsala University economics professor Per Johansson, one of the authors of the study.
“We interpret it as if employers believe all people who are overweight are less productive,” Johansson told the TT news agency.
Johansson emphasized that choosing not to hire someone because of their weight is not only illegal, but that companies risk missing out on talented workers who happen to be somewhat heavy.
One manager at a small IT firm told TT that he refuses to hire people who are extremely overweight.
“My experience has been that they often can’t handle working at the pace I demand of myself and my coworkers,” he said.
He added he has nothing personal against people who are overweight and that he is simply concerned about recruiting the wrong person.
“It can be seen as unfair, but hiring the wrong person can be fatal for a small business,” the IT manager said.
“My feeling is that really fat people, I mean guys who weigh 120 kilos, often perform worse and often have worse health than skinny people.”
Kicki Randmael, who lost 55 kilos after having an operation, said that her obesity cost her the chance to become a deacon within the Church of Sweden, as a bishop explained she wouldn’t be accepted to the training course because there was a risk she would suffer knee problems on account of her weight.
“I was totally shocked. I really couldn’t believe my ears,” Randmael told TT.
She said that, following her operation, she thinks people listen to her in a totally different way.
“It may be that I’m more radiant and occupy a different space now, but when I was overweight I was treated like I was less intelligent,” she said.