Obese Children Are More Likely to Be Bullied

The association between obesity, being bullied exists regardless of potential confounders
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Obese children are more likely to be bullied than their normal-weight peers, regardless of several potential academic, social and sociodemographic confounders, according to research published online May 3 in Pediatrics.

Julie C. Lumeng, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues studied 821 children (17 percent of whom were obese and 15 percent of whom were overweight) to evaluate the relationship between a child's weight status and the likelihood that the child will suffer bullying, as reported by the child, the mother, and a teacher.

According to teachers, mothers and the children themselves, in sixth grade, 33.9, 44.5 and 24.9 percent of the children, respectively, were reported to be bullied. The researchers found a significant association between obesity and being bullied (odds ratio, 1.63), a relationship that was not moderated by any covariates, such as race, grade level, family income-to-needs ratio, and mother- and teacher-reported child social skills and academic achievement.

"Children who are obese are more likely to be bullied, regardless of a number of potential sociodemographic, social, and academic confounders. No protective factors were identified. Effective interventions to reduce bullying of obese children need to be identified," the authors write.

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