Being overweight at work

Many bosses are biased against fat people - so what's the solution if you're overweight, asks Nick Jackson

A lot of people can be a little sensitive about their weight at this time of year. Just to make things worse, a new survey has come along that tells us that your boss is keeping an eye on your girth.

Nearly 80 per cent of 300 senior managers and directors of major companies polled by The Aziz Corporation, a communications consultancy, said there was a prejudice against fat people in business.

"This research reveals that appearance matters in business and that weight is one of the key factors," says Khalid Aziz, head of The Aziz Corporation and visiting professor of business communications at Southampton university.

"Those who are heavily overweight give a message that they lack self-control." He points to last year's TV show The Apprentice where, he says, the better contestant, Ruth Badger, lost out because of her weight.

More than two thirds of the bosses polled said that fat people were seen as lacking self-discipline and self-control, energy and drive. And there is nothing to stop them acting on these prejudices and not hiring you because of your weight.

Until discrimination legislation appears, it is up to you to bust the flab or bust the stereotype. "If people want to get on in business, they need to be lean and mean," says Professor Aziz.

Seventy per cent of the bosses polled said that the very fit are better able to cope with the demands of a senior role in business. Which is ironic, as senior roles in business, eating on the hoof and getting take-out when you work late, can be bad for your girth.

Almost half of the bosses polled made new year's resolutions to diet. But for most of us a diet is at best pointless and at worst dangerous, according to the British Nutrition Foundation, the nutrition research society. "The sensible way to lose weight is to make long-term changes to your lifestyle," says Lisa Miles, nutrition scientist at the BNF. "Fad diets can actually be quite dangerous."

Much better than potentially dangerous miracle cures, she says, is to just eat healthily. You should be looking to get a third of your energy from fruit and veg, a third from starchy foods like pasta and rice, and a third from everything else.

If you are looking to lose weight, the government recommends using 500 to 800 more calories a day than you consume and aiming to drop one or two pounds a week. "If you consume more than you use, you'll put on weight," says Miles. "It's not rocket science."

The problem, as Miles recognises, is knowing how much energy you need. The guidelines are 2,000 calories a day for women, 2,500 for men, but different people with different bodies, habits, and lifestyles will need very different amounts of energy.

A two-year research project published last year found that counting calories can be worse for you than learning to love your body and enjoy the energy that healthy eating gives.

The sure-fire way to address the calorie balance is exercise. "People who are bigger do get discriminated against," says Sammy Margo, physiotherapist and author of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's Lazy Exercise for Busy People guide. "The issue is how to get out of that loop, it is very difficult to get out of."

A lot of people, says Margo, are too embarrassed to start exercising because they are out of shape, are too busy, or do not want to spend money on gym membership. However, "you don't need to spend loads of money on a gym membership," she says. "The solution is to try and integrate low-level exercises into your daily life."

You can download the Lazy Exercise for Busy People guide from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy'swebsite: www.csp.org.uk.

With guidelines on how to lose weight while brushing your teeth and the proper way to watch TV, it can feel a little tyrannical, but that is part of the point, says Margo. "It's about thinking about your routine and breaking your routine."

Once you have broken your routine, you can choose which exercises fit in to your life. The best basic exercise is free and easy: walking. Margo recommends getting off the bus a stop early, taking the stairs, and going for a "discovery walk" on your lunch break.

If you were just born big and beautiful, eating healthily and being active will bust the bosses' stereotypes.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant - IT Channel - Graduate

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a Value-Added I...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Guru Careers: Junior Web Developer

£18 - 22k (DOE) + Benefits & Stock Options: Guru Careers: A Junior Developer /...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing