Obese Shoppers

Study: Obese shoppers face discrimination

A Rice University study suggests retail sales clerks subtly discriminate against obese shoppers unless they think the customer is trying to lose weight. But the world's largest retail trade association says the study proves only that some sales clerks are rude.

The research, conducted over five years, was done in three phases and focused on smaller stores in a large Houston mall. Researchers say obese shoppers reported greater levels of interpersonal discrimination. And those who were casually dressed faced the most rejection. The subtle forms of discrimination included less eye contact, more rudeness, hostility and unfriendliness.

A psychology professor at the University of Kansas who has tracked attitudes toward the overweight for the last 20 years, says the Rice findings are typical.