Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teasing about weight can affect pre-teens profoundly, study suggests

Date:
September 24, 2010
Source:
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Summary:
Schoolyard taunts of any type can potentially damage a child's sense of self-confidence. But a new study suggests that a particular kind of teasing -- about weight -- can have distinctive and significant effects on how pre-teens perceive their own bodies.

Schoolyard taunts of any type can potentially damage a child's sense of self-confidence. But a new study suggests that a particular kind of teasing -- about weight -- can have distinctive and significant effects on how pre-teens perceive their own bodies.

Related Articles


The research, among the first to specifically examine the impact of weight-based criticism on pre-adolescents, also hints that the practice can cause other health and emotional issues for its victims.

"We tend to think of adolescence as the time when kids become sensitive about their body image, but our findings suggest that the seeds of body dissatisfaction are actually being sown much earlier," said Timothy D. Nelson, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the study's lead author. "Criticism of weight, in particular, can contribute to issues that go beyond general problems with self-esteem."

For the study, Nelson and his colleagues surveyed hundreds of public school students whose average age was 10.8 years. They collected participants' heights and weights and calculated their Body Mass Index, then examined the relationships between weight-related criticism and children's perceptions of themselves.

Their results showed that overweight pre-teens who endured weight-based criticism tended to judge their bodies more harshly and were less satisfied with their body sizes than students who weren't teased about their weight.

The effects of weight-based teasing were significant even when researchers removed the effects of students' BMI from their analysis in an attempt to separate the relative contributions of physical reality and children's social interactions to their body perceptions, Nelson said.

Because children who develop such negative views of their bodies are at higher risk for internalizing problems, developing irregular eating behaviors and ongoing victimization, researchers said these results should be a signal for more early identification and intervention efforts at schools.

"In a way, weight-related criticism is one of the last socially acceptable forms of criticism," Nelson said. "There's often a sense that overweight people 'deserve' it, or that if they are continually prodded about their weight, they'll do something about it.

"In fact, our research suggests that this kind of criticism tends to increase the victim's body dissatisfaction, which has been shown to be a factor in poorer outcomes with pediatric weight management programs. It becomes something of a vicious cycle."

The study notes that children's views of their bodies are a complex interaction between physical reality and socially influenced perceptions. Peer criticism about weight is an important social factor that could affect how pre-adolescents interpret the physical reality of their bodies, Nelson said.

The findings, Nelson said, should be relevant to understanding the consequences of weight-related criticism and considering interventions with preadolescents who are frequent targets of the taunts.

"While weight-related criticism is identifiable, programs targeting it are limited," he said. "Early identification of children who are targets of frequent and chronic weight-based criticism may also be important in reducing it and its harmful effects."

Nelson authored the study, which appears in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, with Chad D. Jensen and Ric G. Steele of the Clinical Child Psychology Program at the University of Kansas.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Teasing about weight can affect pre-teens profoundly, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907163521.htm>.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (2010, September 24). Teasing about weight can affect pre-teens profoundly, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907163521.htm
University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "Teasing about weight can affect pre-teens profoundly, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100907163521.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins