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

included teachers (27 percent said they'd been bullied or teased at least once by a teacher), physical education teachers or coaches (42 percent) and parents (37 percent).

However, only 3 percent said they'd been bullied often or very often by a teacher. The number was 11 percent for parents and 6 percent for physical education teachers or coaches.

How does this compare to kids in general? Research suggests that overweight kids are teased and bullied three to six times more often than others, depending on the age group, Puhl said.

What to do?

"Pediatric medical providers, school personnel and educators can really help youth by putting weight-based teasing on the radar, and making sure this is being addressed on par with other forms of bullying," she said.

Dr. Mark Schuster, chief of general pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital, said bullying itself is getting more attention as a serious issue. "There's a greater recognition that it can have significant short- and long-term consequences, both physical and emotional," said Schuster, who co-wrote a commentary accompanying the study. "Kids can be emotionally scarred for a long time, and they can carry this into adulthood."

What about the idea that teasing and bullying are normal, and kids will be kids? "There are always going to be all sorts of things going on that we as a society do not support," he said. "We can either look the other way, or say that's wrong and we want to help kids and the kids who are perpetrators."

The study appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

More information

For details on obesity in children, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Rebecca Puhl, Ph.D., director of research, Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Mark Schuster, M.D., Ph.D.
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