Why do Obese Kids Attract Bullies?

Washington, May 3 (IANS) Obese children are more likely to be bullied regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status, social skills or academic achievement, says a new study.

"Physicians who care for obese children should consider the role that being bullied is playing in the child's well-being," said study leader Julie C. Lumeng, assistant professor in paediatrics and communicable diseases, University of Michigan's (U-M) C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

Childhood obesity and bullying are both pervasive public health problems. Obesity among children in the US has risen to epidemic proportions with 17 percent of six to 11-year-olds estimated to be obese.

Besides, parents of obese children rate bullying as their top health concern. Past studies have shown that obese children who are bullied experience more depression, anxiety and loneliness.

The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between childhood obesity 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 socio-economic status, race, social skills and academic achievement.

Further, this study is unique in that it specifically looks at the age range when bullying peaks - ages six to 9, said an U-M release.

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 findings will be published in the June issue of Paediatrics.


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