Overweight Kids Bullied More

Overweight kids are more likely than normal-weight children to be victims of bullying, or bullies themselves. A study found bolstering evidence that being fat endangers emotional as well as physical health. While not surprising given the stigma of being overweight, the new findings underscore the importance of enlisting teachers and schools in the fight to prevent and treat obesity in children. The researchers said "The social and psychological ramifications induced by the bullying-victimization process may hinder the social development of overweight and obese youth, because adolescents are extremely reliant on peers for social support, identity and self-esteem."

Obese girls were more than five times more likely than normal-weight girls to physically bully other youngsters at least once weekly. Among boys, the risk of being physically aggressive was only slightly increased, but they were more than twice as likely to make fun of others and spread lies and rumors than normal-weight boys. I have a story in tomorrow's newsletter that offers some encouraging information on how this trend is already being addressed by some school districts.

Pediatrics Vol. 113 No. 5 May 2004, pp. 1187-1194

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