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Overweight-related victimisation in pre-adolescent boys and girls

By Clea Lynne Waterson


Research findings from adult studies suggest that being teased about weight or size when growing up may be a risk factor in the development of later eating and body image problems. However, little research has focused directly on teasing experiences in childhood. The current study aimed to extend previous work and investigate the frequency of overweight-related victimisation and its psychological correlates in preadolescent boys and girls. It was hypothesised that victimised children would have\ud lower self-esteem, more body dissatisfaction, and be more likely to report dieting to lose weight. From the sample of three hundred and eighty-three children (200 boys and 183\ud girls), aged nine years, it was found that 41% of girls and 36% of boys reported general victimisation. Furthermore, 21 % of girls and 16% of boys reported overweight-related\ud victimisation, which included being teased, bullied, and called names about being fat. Overweight-related victimisation was associated with reduced self-esteem and greater levels of body dissatisfaction, even when controlling for BMI. These children were also more likely to report dieting and restrained eating behaviours than non-overweight victimised participants. Moreover, the overweight-related victimised participants received less attractiveness nominations from their peers than non-overweight victimised participants. Not surprisingly these participants rated fat teasing worse than other forms of teasing and it was more upsetting for them. This study also investigated characteristics associated overweight-related victimisers and found they had lower behavioural conduct esteem and lower global self-worth. In addition, they considered physical appearance more important for self-worth than those who did not victimise others for overweight. To date, this is the first study to describe levels of overweight related victimisation in a community sample of preadolescent boys and girls. Overall, this study highlights the presence of obesity stigmatisation, through teasing, in children and the potential negative consequences of overweight-related victimisation. Further\ud research is required to examine the role of peer victimisation as a risk factor in the emergence of eating and weight concerns

Publisher: School of Medicine (Leeds)
Year: 2001
OAI identifier:

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