Obese children are at a higher risk for being bullied?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Overweight, school-aged children positively correlate with an increased risk of being bullied.
WHAT WE KNOW
What is the one thing that worries you most about your kids during the school day? A large percentage of parents rate bullying as a major concern. The childhood obesity epidemic has been spotlighted recently for increasing the risks for many of the leading causes of deaths. Now, bullying is another problem that can be added to the list of problems correlated with this epidemic!
School-aged children are experiencing a lot of change in their bodies and tons of new social experiences. Their self-esteem is already affected by many factors of their peer-influenced society, and the last thing they should need to worry about is being overweight! Physical appearance is a target area of bullying, making preadolescence and adolescence a particularly difficult time to be overweight.
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A study reported in Pediatrics compared weight data with the likelihood of being bullied (as reported by child, parent or teacher) for 821 children in 10 locations across the country. In grades 3 through 6, scientists found that an obese child faces up to a 63% increased chance of peer harassment. The link remained constant across all demographics, such as gender, race, socioeconomic status and grades.¹
Another study published in the Journal of Adolescents collected self-reported samples from 376, 11-14 year olds about their weight status, their experiences with three different types of bullying (verbal, physical and social), their self-esteem for physical appearance, and several other factors. The study found that overweight and obese children reported experiencing significantly more verbal and physical bullying than their non-overweight peers.²
Bullying is a problem that has existed for years. Many schools have advocated strategies to decrease and eliminate bullying, but it can’t always be completely stopped. When children and adolescents experience negative peer relationships with their weight status as the target of the harassment, there are many short- and long-term effects.
Parents are part of this picture and may be increasing the risk of such victimization by contributing to part of the problem. Each of the following factors increases the risk for childhood obesity …
- Setting poor dietary examples
- Feeding kids high-fat and high-sugar snacks
- Letting the TV run around the clock
Here are some easy things you can do as a parent to help fight the obesity epidemic and decrease your child’s risk of becoming overweight …
- Eat a balanced diet low in fat, saturated fat, and rich in whole grains and fruits and veggies!
- Replace your high-fat, sugary snack foods with fruits and veggies—they have more vitamins and minerals and less calories! Search Our Recipes for Healthy Snacks
- Exercise! Kids need at least 60 minutes of exercise each day! As a parent you should find fun ways to incorporate exercise into your family’s routine. Try getting your kids involved in sports or searching for other healthy activities in your local community!
- Check out the Top 10 Things Parents Can Do to fight childhood obesity.
- Take the pledge to fight childhood obesity commit to taking positive steps in your own home … or at school.
¹ Lumeng J.C., et al. “Weight Status as a Predictor of Being Bullied in Third Through Sixth Grades.” Pediatrics (2010). 125(6): e1301-7.
² Farrow, C.V., C.L. Fox. “Global and Physical Self-Esteem and Body Dissatisfaction as Mediators of the Relationship Between Weight Status and Being a Victim of Bullying.” Journal of Adolescence (2009). 32: 1287-1301.