Being obese can attract bullies

May 3, 2010

Obese children are more likely to be bullied regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status, social skills or academic achievement.

Those are the findings of the study "Weight status as a predictor of being bullied in third through sixth grades," which is available online now and will be published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics. Julie C. Lumeng, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, is lead author of the study.

Childhood obesity and bullying are both pervasive public health problems. Obesity among children in the United States has risen to epidemic proportions with 17 percent of 6 to 11 year olds estimated to be obese between 2003 and 2006. In addition, parents of rate bullying as their top health concern and past studies have shown that obese children who are bullied experience more and loneliness.

The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between and being bullied in third, fifth, and sixth grades. While studies on bullying and obesity in children have been conducted before, none had controlled for factors such as , race, social skills and .

Further, this study is unique in that it specifically looks at the age range when bullying peaks - ages 6 to 9.

Researchers studied 821 children who were participating in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. These children were recruited at birth in 10 study sites around the country.

Researchers evaluated the relationship between the child's weight status and the odds of being bullied as reported by the child, mother, and teacher. The study accounted for grade level in school, gender, race, family income-to-needs ratio, racial and socioeconomic composition of the school, and child social skills and academic achievement as reported by mothers and teachers.

Researchers found that obese children had higher odds of being bullied no matter their gender, race, family socioeconomic status, school demographic profile, social skills or academic achievement.

Authors conclude that being obese, by itself, increases the likelihood of being a victim of bullying. Interventions to address bullying in schools are badly needed, Lumeng adds.

"Physicians who care for obese children should consider the role that being bullied is playing in the child's well-being," Lumeng says. "Because perceptions of children are connected to broader societal perceptions about body type, it is important to fashion messages aimed at reducing the premium placed on thinness and the negative stereotypes that are associated with being obese or overweight."

While the study did not look into interventions to address bullying in this population, the hope is that these results could prove useful in doing so, Lumeng says.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

13 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jonnyboy
May 03, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
akotlar
May 03, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Husky
4 / 5 (3) May 03, 2010
the solution is that we need even more fat kids, so the more slender bullies become a minority and we know what happens to minorities, they get bullied!
ThanderMAX
May 03, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
marjon
May 03, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
marjon
3.3 / 5 (3) May 03, 2010
What is pointless about stating this article seems to blame the victim for being bullied?
JayK
1 / 5 (1) May 03, 2010
What is pointless about stating this article seems to blame the victim for being bullied?

What the heck are you even talking about? You probably get deleted because your whole existence is pointless.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 03, 2010
What is pointless about stating this article seems to blame the victim for being bullied?

What the heck are you even talking about? You probably get deleted because your whole existence is pointless.

Editors: Is this comment pointless verbage?
JayK
1 / 5 (1) May 03, 2010
Editors: Can you please call the whaaaaaaambulance? We seem to have a problem here.
ThanderMAX
5 / 5 (1) May 03, 2010
PHYORG's Editor seems to be very agitated upon hoisting the flag for "pointless verbage" ARTICLES .

Yet he is deleting every effort of viewer's objection on "pointless verbage" ARTICLES .

Shame on you!
ThanderMAX
3.7 / 5 (3) May 03, 2010
@PHYORG's Editor : Keep this comment area out of your "unneeded" scrutiny.

Look at Digg community, they are more liberal on viewers point.

Is this some kind of COMMUNIST site ?
marjon
3 / 5 (2) May 04, 2010
I would call the study itself a form of bullying.
marjon
1 / 5 (1) May 04, 2010
Editors: Can you please call the whaaaaaaambulance? We seem to have a problem here.

Another case of pointless verbage?
When will it end?
Or, JK must be an editor? His pointless verbage litters the site.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.