Obesity Threatens Children's Physical and Mental Health
children who are stigmatized by adults and their peers suffer from low
self esteem and even suicidal thoughts, according to a paper by
scientists from Yale and the University of Hawaii at Manatoa.
analyzes published research gathered from psychological, medical,
social science, and educational databases. Over 100 studies were
included that offered evidence on the associations between obesity,
stigma (e.g., teasing, victimization, and prejudice of obese youth) and
a variety of negative consequences that included social exclusion, low
self esteem, reduced academic and earning potential, avoidance of
physical activity, eating disorders, and even suicide.
discrimination is as important a problem as racial discrimination or
discrimination against children with physical disabilities," the
authors write in the July issue of Psychological Bulletin. "Remedying
it needs to be taken equally seriously if we are to protect the
emotional and physical well-being of our nation’s children."
Among some of the more striking findings highlighted were:
- Adolescents teased about their weight are two-to-three times more likely to report suicidal ideation than their peers.
- Children as young as preschool age ascribe negative characteristics to overweight peers and reject them as potential playmates.
- Overweight adolescents report that parents are a frequent source of weight-based teasing.
- Youth who
reported weight-based victimization are at risk for unhealthy weight
control, binge eating behaviors, and avoidance of physical activity.
who reported being treated unfairly because of their weight had higher
blood pressure than their peers – even after controlling for
weight, activity level and other factors.
provides extensive documentation of the extent of stigmatization,
long-term health consequences of weight bias require further study, as
does identifying methods to effectively reduce stigma toward youth, the
childhood obesity epidemic is rapidly accelerating," said lead author
Rebecca Puhl of the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale.
"That means thousands of children in North America are at risk for
serious emotional and physical health consequences that science shows
are connected to weight stigma. We cannot overestimate the urgency of
For more information on the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale, visit www.yaleruddcenter.org