Overweight children and teens are at high risk of being bullied, not just by their peers, but also by teachers and parents, a new study has found.
The study, conducted by researchers from Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale, found that overweight teens are at high risk of being bullied by teachers and parents and that victimization of the teen remains even after losing weight.
The study included 361 teens that were part of two national weight-loss camps. These teens were asked to report the kind of victimization that they had experienced because of their weight.
A majority of children said that they were bullied mainly at school. Some were bullied for a year or so while a few had been bullied for more than five years. Generally, the heavier a child was, the more he or she got bullied.
Overweight children remained target for bullying even after they lost weight, researchers found.
Although peers were common perpetrators of bullying, kids in the study reported that they were bullied by parents and teachers as well.
Physical education teachers and sports coaches were the most cited offenders with 42 percent teens saying the coaches had bullied them; 37 percent reported being bullied by parents while 27 percent by classroom teachers.
The most prominent form of bullying was verbal teasing followed by cyber bullying and physical aggression.
"While our findings suggest that teasing and bullying may be inevitable for the heaviest youth, it is striking that even formerly overweight youth who have lost weight and whose body weight is now considered healthy may still be vulnerable to weight-based victimization," said Rebecca Puhl, the Rudd Center's director of research and lead author of the study.
Abigail Saguy, a sociologist from University of California, Los Angeles had said that the public attitude towards weight is more dangerous than obesity itself.
"It's also concerning that over a third of adolescents reported weight-based victimization from parents. These findings highlight the need for parental education so that parents can use more sensitive and supportive strategies when talking about weight-related health with their child," Puhl added in a news release.
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.