(HealthDay News) – Weight loss treatment-seeking adolescents frequently report weight-based victimization (WBV) at school, which is perpetrated by adults as well as peers and friends, according to a study published online Dec. 24 in Pediatrics.
Rebecca M. Puhl, PhD, from Yale University in New Haven, CT, and colleagues examined WBV among 361 adolescents (aged 14–18 years) enrolled in two national weight loss camps. An online survey was used to assess the duration, typical locations, frequent perpetrators, and forms of WBV.
The researchers found that 64% of the participants reported WBV at school, which was commonly experienced in multiple locations. The risk of WBV increased with body weight. Seventy-eight percent reported WBV lasting for one year and 36% reported being teased/bullied for five years. The most commonly reported perpetrators were peers (92%) and friends (70%), with adult perpetrators also reported, including physical education teachers/sport coaches (42%), parents (37%), and teachers (27%). Verbal teasing was the most frequently reported form of WBV (75–88%), followed by relational victimization (74–82%), cyberbullying (59–61%), and physical aggression (33–61%).
“With increased recognition of WBV, providers can play an important role in helping to reduce the damaging impact of victimization on the quality of life for youth struggling with their weight,” the authors write.