Male jurors are more likely to convict overweight female defendants than lean ones, a study has found.
And further, men were more harshly disposed to obese women than they were to obese men, according to the findings of researchers at the Yale Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity, cited by Australia's Fairfax media.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Obesity, focused on the influence of bodyweight on perceptions of guilt and responsibility.
But women were no more likely to consider obese people guilty than skinny people of either gender.
Meanwhile, there was no difference in men's or women's assessment of the men's guilt, regardless of bodyweight, according to the Fairfax report.
The authors wrote of their findings that:
"The results … indicate that bodyweight and sex of a defendant have an interactive effect on juror perceptions of guilt and responsibility. Male respondents endorsed greater anti-fat bias than female respondents. In addition, female participants were more likely than male participants to attribute obesity to biological and environmental causes as opposed to personal shortcomings."
Lynn Grefe, the president of the National Eating Disorders Association, found the results upsetting, telling ABC News:
"I think it’s one more nail in the coffin of how painful it is for people that are of larger sizes. These people could be healthy. We’re judging people. We’re making stereotypes. We did this with race years ago. We did it with religion."
Fairfax quoted Jane Goodman-Delahunty, a psychology and law specialist at Charles Sturt University, as saying that the study "corroborated research that found the appearance of defendants, including whether they were baby-faced or attractive, influenced jurors' perceptions of their guilt.