Kentucky Must Take Action Against Weight Discrimination. It’s Costing the State Billions.

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University of Louisville
University of Louisville

Originally published with Katrina T. Webber in The Courier Journal on January 4, 2024.

When one of our research participants started experiencing pain in her ribs, she decided to see her doctor for help. During the appointment, the physician blamed the participant’s pain on her higher weight, lecturing her about the risk of diabetes and telling her that weight loss would cure her pain. The issue was not resolved. It was only later that the participant found out she had an infection and that her pain was caused by inflammation in the cartilage between her ribs. She needed antibiotics – not a lecture about weight loss.

Weight-based discrimination can be deadly

Unfortunately, this person's story is all too common. Weight-based discrimination like this can be deadly, and it influences the health, wellbeing and wallets of over 34 million Americans per year. Yet only two states provide legal protection against weight discrimination, with four others currently considering legislation. As a national leader in addressing the harm of eating disorders, Kentucky should be on this list. Establishing legal protection against weight discrimination would improve the well-being of Kentuckians, conserve the state’s monetary resources and reflect the will of voters.