Scientists Find Colleges Slight Obese Applicants

Two scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that fat high school students are discriminated against by teachers and college interviewers.

As a result, a fat high school girl has one-third less chance of getting into college than her thin classmate. Although overweight boys face the same problem, their chances are slightly better.

Jean Mayer, Professor of Nutrition, and Helen Channing, a senior research assistant at the School of Public Health, published their findings Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their report was based on a study of graduates from a suburban high school, and a similar analysis of students at an unidentified Ivy League and Seven Sister College.

The two researchers said that the discrimination was probably unconscious. "Interviewers look at an obese student and say to themselves, 'this girl would never fit in at Wellesley,' (or a similar college)," Mayer said.

Mayer explained that the more marked discrimination against fat girls is probably the result of current styles of clothing which makes obesity more apparent in females than in males.