(HealthDay News) – Obese children in early primary school are significantly more likely to be involved with bullying, both as victim and perpetrator, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in Pediatrics.
Pauline W. Jansen, PhD, from Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues evaluated the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and teacher-reported bullying behavior in 4,364 children (mean age, 6.2 years) in early primary school. A peer nomination method was used to obtain child reports of bullying in a subsample of 1,327 children.
The researchers found that for both teacher- and child-reported bullying there were associations for higher BMI with more victimization and more bullying perpetration. There was a 0.05 increase on the standardized teacher-reported victimization score in association with a 1-point increase in BMI (P<0.001). Obese, but not overweight children, had a significantly higher risk of being a bully-victim (odds ratio, 2.25), compared with normal-weight peers.
“At school entry, a high BMI is a risk factor associated with victimization and bullying perpetration, with obese children particularly likely to be victims and aggressors,” the authors write. “Possibly, obesity triggers peer problems, but the association may also reflect a common underlying cause that makes obese children vulnerable to bullying involvement.”