Weight and work - a discriminating factor

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Angelic Jones

Your body fat may determine your next job position. Employers are searching for each and every discriminatory tool to use in deciding who will work for them, everything from Facebook to body fat. Body mass index (BMI) is now projected to be included as a hiring tool for industries, specifically because of the health care reform laws. Employers will be able to cite the health of potential staff members as an issue that may affect the cost of their health insurance plans in the same way that smoking is an issue now.

In the future if you want a job, you will need to be lithe and within limits on the BMI, which uses height and weight metrics to determine an acceptable range of body fat for people. According to this scale you could be considered underweight, normal, overweight or obese. Visit the National Institute of Health right now to find out your range at www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi.

When you know your numbers, you have control over your body. And in this economy, knowing your numbers may very well mean control over your future employment options. Discrimination on the basis of beauty is not illegal and we know for a fact that employers hire more attractive people on a regular basis. It is human nature that the better you look, the more it is assumed you are capable of getting a job done.

It is a sad but true fact that humans gravitate to the attractive, and weight is a factor in what others consider attractive. The American standard of beauty, though we have idealized Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole, is currently set at skinny with high fashion looks. It's no wonder employers are seizing on the health reform laws to determine applicants' qualifications based on BMI.

Health care reform is the new legal battleground being fought in the Supreme Court. Until that battle is over - and possibly after - employers will be taking advantage of anything that is not covered by law as a point of discrimination. BMI is a new way for employers to tout their expenses as an excuse not to hire. Just as smokers are being told not to smoke on property and being asked to join workplace smoking cessation programs, employers are targeting the weight of workers with workplace health programs and using weight in hiring practices.

What's the BIG idea?

The bigger a person is, the more health issues they are likely to have. The BMI determines how much fat is in your body. Fat clogs the arteries, causing cholesterol issues. It is linked to the development of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Is this cause for concern with your employer? Yes. The more obese the person, the more health becomes an issue. The more diseases a person has, the less likely they are to be at work and the more likely they are to use medical benefits for disease treatment. Since a primary tenet of the health care reform law is that prevention is the key to saving everyone money, employers have a valid leg to stand on.

Riding the range

The only recourse job seekers have in this turbulent environment is riding the range. That is, ride the range of healthy to overweight on the body mass index and be careful not to slip into the range of obesity. That is a key factor in your chances of being picked up as an employee. The body is part of the political battleground.

Angelic Jones is a freelance writer and book reviewer for Austin Weekly News.

CONTACT: ajoneswrites4u@excite.com

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