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Overweight Teens Report High Rates of Bullying, Teasing
Date:12/26/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A new survey of teenagers in weight-loss programs found that 64 percent had been teased or bullied because of their weight, and although the lion's share of teasing came from their peers some of the perpetrators have included parents, teachers and coaches.

"Kids who are clinically obese are experiencing teasing and bullying, not just at school but at home. That means they have few sources of support or allies," said survey author Rebecca Puhl.

The findings have limitations. The researchers who conducted the survey didn't ask questions of similar teens who aren't overweight or obese, so it's not clear how much more likely they are to be teased or bullied than other kids who are like them. Another group of kids who can be targeted because of their weight -- those who are extremely skinny -- weren't included in the study.

And there's a complication: not everyone in the study is heavier than normal. The survey included teens who used to be overweight and attended weight-loss camps to get support to remain at a healthier weight.

Puhl, director of research at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, said other research suggests that obesity is a very common reason for bullying. However, she said, "weight-based bullying is often absent from the discussion. It hasn't been part of the national discourse on bullying. There's a real need to see this on the radar."

Researchers gave online surveys to 1,425 teens aged 14 to 18 who attended two weight-loss camps, and 361 completed the surveys. Seventy-one percent of those who responded were white.

Forty percent were clinically obese, 24 percent were overweight and the rest were of normal weight.

Sixty-four percent said they'd been bullied or teased at school because of their weight, but only 20 percent said it happened often or very often. The perpetrators
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