237821 In the trenches: Nature and extent of weight-based victimization experienced by overweight adolescents at school

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rebecca Puhl, PhD , Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Joerg Luedicke, MS , Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Yale University, New Haven
Chelsea Heuer, MPH , Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Overweight and obese youth are vulnerable targets of victimization in the school setting, but little is known about specific types of weight-based teasing and bullying commonly experienced by overweight adolescents, how this compares to other forms of victimization, or specific determinants of weight-based victimization in adolescence. Self-report data were collected from a sample of 1555 adolescents (mean age 16 years) about their weight status, types of victimization experienced at school, and different forms of weight-based teasing and bullying experienced. Weight-based victimization was reported by students to be the most prevalent form of teasing at school, which was substantially more frequent than reports of victimization due to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. Overweight adolescents reported being frequent targets of verbal teasing, physical aggression, relational victimization, and cyber bullying because of their weight. These experiences were reported in multiple locations on school campus, including the classroom, cafeteria, and gym class. Overweight adolescents were 6 times more likely to be teased because of their weight compared to healthy-weight peers. Body mass index and low grades were identified as risk factors for weight-based victimization, and among overweight adolescents who reported weight-based teasing, the likelihood of additional victimization increased significantly with each year of age. These findings underscore the need for effective school-based policies to protect overweight students from teasing and bullying. Given increasing implementation of school-based efforts to address obesity, it will be key to protect youth in the face of victimization, which can otherwise erode interventions intended to improve adolescent health.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the prevalence of weight-based teasing and bullying in adolescence 2. Discuss different forms of weight-based victimization common in the school setting 3. Identify specific determinants of weight-based victimization at school

Keywords: Violence, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: For over a decade, I have conducted extensive research and published many studies on stigma and discrimination against overweight and obese individuals.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.