Colorado citizens are among the healthiest in the nation, but state lawmakers are launching an effort to protect those suffering from obesity against discrimination.
Colorado's adult obesity rate of 25% is the lowest in the nation according to a report by Trust for America's Health. But the U.S. obesity rate of 39.6% for all ages is the highest among developed nations.
State lawmakers are putting together two draft bills for next year's legislative session that would ban weight discrimination by employers and housing providers, and outlaw weight-based bullying in schools, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.
The federal Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on real or perceived physical impairments that substantially limit major life activities. But judges have been hesitant to rule that obesity should be considered among them because it "is commonly thought to be a mutable trait that may be prevented or ameliorated through adjustments to lifestyle and diet," according to the Yale Law Journal.
The state Supreme Court in Washington ruled in 2019 obesity is a disability that protects workers from discrimination and requires accommodation. But the Texas Supreme Court in June ruled the other way, saying "morbid obesity is not an impairment under the Labor Code absent evidence that it results from a physiological disorder or condition."
"The history of obesity is that most people have thought it is the person's fault," Kristal Hartman, chair of the board of the Obesity Action Coalition, told the Telegraph. "[People think] they did this to themselves, they're lazy, they eat McDonald's 10 times a day. But as the science has improved, and the research has improved, we're understanding that that is absolutely not the be-all and end-all of obesity.
"Certainly, watching food and body movement and exercise and all of those things are important, but it's actually physiological."
The efforts by Colorado lawmakers follow a new act in New York City that bans firms from firing employees because of their weight or paying them less than slimmer colleagues, the Telegraph reported.
Of states with the 10 lowest obesity rates according to Trust for America's Health, five – Colorado, New Jersey (sixth, 29.1%), New York (seventh, 30.1%), Massachusetts (fourth, 27.2%), and Vermont (third, 26.8%) – have proposed laws that would ban weight discrimination, the Telegraph reported. Michigan, which has the 23rd-highest obesity rate at 34.5%, is the only state in the union with a law protecting obese persons from discrimination.
Michael Katz ✉
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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