Obese Children are More Likely to be Bullied

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I don't have fond memories of grade school. I was a quiet kid who didn't get in trouble and got good grades. That meant I was picked on by some of the "cool" kids, which wasn't easy. It made me insecure about myself, and I still carry some of that with me today. But the bullying I experienced was really nothing compared to what you see in the news today. I worry that my children will see even a small portion of what some kids have to go through on a daily basis.

There are lots of reasons kids get bullied. They don't wear the right clothes, they don't act the right way, or they don't look like everyone else. A new study of third through sixth graders shows that obese children are more likely to be bullied, regardless of things like class, race or academic achievement.

The research, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Pediatrics, studied over 800 six to nine-year-old children. (Previous studies have shown bullying peaks between these ages.) "Researchers found that obese children had higher odds of being bullied no matter their gender, race, family socioeconomic status, school demographic profile, social skills or academic achievement. Authors conclude that being obese, by itself, increases the likelihood of being a victim of bullying," according to the report.

Previous research has shown that parents of obese children rate bullying as one of their top concerns. That's with good reason, since obese children who are bullied tend to experience more depression and anxiety than children who are not bullied.

So what can parents do? Is it better to address the teacher, school staff, or the other parent directly if your child is being bullied? How can we instill the confidence in our children to feel good about themselves regardless of how they look and what others have to say?

If you have a child who is overweight, have they experienced bullying? What did you do about it?

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The only people who bullied me were my two sisters and mother.. I am the middle child, was fat from the time I got my tonsils removed at age 11. Acting out in an alcoholic home made them call me names, taunt me, gang up on me,IN FRONT OF MY MOM NO LESS!! Eldest was first child and grandchild, spoiled, could do NO wrong, youngest was last child and grandchild, born after a miscarriage, so I was stuck.. very quiet,etc.. would sit in a corner and read to become invisible to avoid the beatings and names..
Fortunately for me, God is always in control,,, eldest sister is now an alcoholic, homeless, supporting loser boyfriend, younger sister fried her brain on drugs, had nervous breakdown and has been mentally ill for 37 years, lives alone and on disability, far from us,, mom rejected all family, lives alone by her choice and her whole life consists of tv, multiple daily visits to the cemetary, eating and driving around because she cannot sleep..
I survived major surgeries, alcoholic marriage caring for five relatives before their death, divorce, single parenting, graduating with honors from college, paying for everything in my life from age 16, home, car , etc, nothing owed..
hard work, hard life, but rewards are now and later when it counts!! We are all survivors people, stories are different, actors different, but the play is the same!! Spark on!!! Report
I was bullied in school from about 5th grade on. My parents didn't do much because I didn't complain too much about it until my 2nd year of high school when a boy I had been in school with since 7th grade was making my life so miserable (with the help of a teacher who actually joined in on the "fun"). I went to my mom about it who suggested I speak to the guidance counselor. I did this and she in turn spoke to the teacher who apologized saying she "did not realize" this was so hurtful to me. (Yeah, right!) She stopped joining in but did nothing to stop the other students. Later that year I managed to stop it myself in that very class - the student said something about himself and I responded with a comment that cracked up the entire class and mortified him. I have no idea where the nerve or the comment came from but I am glad because it shut him up once and for all.

I was bullied within my own family by my middle brother. He tortured and tormented me for years ( until I graduated from high school) making horrible comments about my weight; calling me "Fat Alberta" and other nasty things. He even went as far as to tell the boys in the neighborhood that I weighed 120 lbs. This was the average weight for my age/height at the time - but I was ashamed and humiliated just the same when one of the boys turned around & looked at me with wide eyes and asked "REALLY?"

Mom used to tell me that my brother was bothered by my weight and it was his way of showing that to me. I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now. He's just mean - period. But you know what? Karma got him. As an adult he (and his wife) has struggled with his weight so at least he knows how that feels. Do I torment and tease him? No way - I know how much that hurts and would never do that to anyone. Report
You know. I was really lucky. I have been overweight since I was a child. I was never teased or bullied when I was in school. I was even picked for dodgeball and kickball about middle of the pack. I never even realized until we moved to a different part of the state that people might use your weight against you. My new friends would talk about other people and say something like, "she's so fat" or what have you. I would just look at them and say, "So? So am I." Then the subject would change. lol I don't know what anyone ever said behind my back...but it was never said to my face. I wish it was that way for everyone. Report
I am a teacher and the only thing that I want to say is... Kids are not learning these behaviors on their own. Most live with adults that act and say the same things at home. Most kids learn to model behavior. Some times as a teacher once you met the parent of the bully you understand why the child is that way. Some kids are bullied by their own parents. Report
I got bullied a lot in school. When I was in grade 8, I decided that if things didn't change in high school I would kill myself. Things didn't change but I didn't kill myself, I developed an eating disorder. 12 years later it is still with me. Report
I was a skinny kid all my life. Never fat. I was teased at early age. I have long legs so back then I was called Daddy Long legs. You can be fat, skinny, crooked teeth, wear glasses and even be called four eyes. I do not believe it stems always being heavy. There is bullies in every school.Gangs. They will hurt you and say things whatever hits them. They are cowards. One says anything negative to them. See how they react. I know teachers are aware of the bully's. They close there eyes. Teachers have the children more then the parents. If they know this.Principal's know. Then take control of the bulliness in the schools. Dr.Phil 's son went around the schools and got things up and going. To stop bulliness. Why is there know one in the schools to stop this. Schools had cops now they are gone.Why? Schools, streets had the Angels on parole. They are gone. What gives.
The girl who killed herself the school teachers knew and they did nothing. She was not fat. She was pretty. If they knew this was going on. Why did they not stop it. She took her life. They say she drank. I guess maybe that was her way of trying to escape the fear. I feel so sorry for all parents that go through this. Parents. March into those schools where your child attends. Get answers to be helped for your children before it is too late. Why does it take Dr. Phil's oldest son who is not even a Father go out and do something. In school for bullies. Report
My mother instilled in me that "you can do anything a skinny person can except get into a size 8 dress". Self-esteem is so important! Report
I believe a lot of it falls on Peer Pressure. Children learn what they learn from their parents. The mom or dad might be driving by someone walking on the street & say that child is fat & therefore their child interpets this to be a bad thing, because the way it is expressed in the car as they drive by. Therefore the child when he/she comes up close to a child that is fat, thinks it is okay to get in the face of that child & be blunt.

I believe the solution is to prevent it in the 1st place, & there would be less if any peer pressure. Eliminate Peer Pressure & help the children of today to be healthy & confident, no matter what anyone says. We all could use encouraging words!! Report
This has been going on 4ever! Both my brother and I were. Tho not "obese" but overweight, we both have scars from ths time that made my brother the town drunk for yrs ... and me - my mother took me to a "diet" doctor and I got "diet pills" (heavy duty amphetimines c1970) that made me become a "speed freak" for 37 yrs! The damage these kids did was phenomenal ... tho it was up to me to accept myself. Still have a lot of problems looking @ myself. Some people are just "bigger" Report
how is this news? fat kids being bullied?!? shocking. Report
Bullying is one of the reasons I'm scared to have kids. It would break my heart to have a child who was bullied, but I really think I might end up hating my kid if they were malicious. Report
Bullying caused the death of a young lady in So. Hadley, MA. Kids can be so cruel, but it is our job as parents & educators to put a stop to it. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a publication, "Teaching Tolerance", which is free to educators and contains some VERY worthwhile material. We all need to pull together to stop bullying! Report
Ironically I wasn't bullied because I was close to obese, but because the deaf kids considered me as a deaf girl who acted and thought like a hearing kid. They never made fun of my weight problem. That is why I could not deal with my handicap for years and years until a friend who is deaf herself helped me see the light and my best friend who is also my husband (hearing) told me I mattered the most to him and he loved me the best. So the past is the past so we gotta let it go and try to be happy. Report
I wasn't bullied by other kids. But I had a Home Ec teacher who couldn't resist comparing me to my sister (she was really skinny). She'd make comments about m being chubby and my sis being so thin. When I look at pics of myself back then I get really mad. That teacher was ridiculous! But it did damage to my perception of myself. Report
I was a cubby kid and I did get picked on. It is scary for me when I have children that they will be to then they will be picked on. So I think if I get more active and eat healthier that I will give those good habits to my kids and they might not be as cubby as I was :D Report
I know the feeling. I have always been on a roller coaster ride with my weight. Born on the chubby side lost weight during my toddler years (I think cause I was stretching), was chubby again from the age of 7-13 and lost weight from 13-16. After 16 I had had my first child and have stayed on the chubby side since then (but am working on losing it, thanks SP). During school I would get picked on and I turned very violent. I did poor in school, got kicked out and even suspended. Teachers would ignore the situation and having my mom come and talk to the school didn't help either. I'm so glad those years are over. Unfortunately, my 9 year old son is now going through the same situation. He was born on the chubby side, lost weight and has now gained weight again (about the age of 7). He eats healthy, always drinks water (he's not much of a juice or pop kid) and sweats a lot (he's very active). He got held back in his 1st grade because he hated school. I have talked to him and showed him my childhood pictures, I've told him to talk to the teachers, ignore the bullying and have had parent and school visits, nothing seems to help (I felt so helpless). My son is now in martial arts it has helped him gain his confidence and exercise more. With his confidence boosted up he says that it is much easier to ignore the bullying. I still continue to talk to him, and he understands that violence is not the answer (and I thank GOD that he is very calm and non violent unlike his mother). I think helping our children gain their confidence and knowing that we support them 100% makes a great difference. Report
My oldest son was bullied in middle school by a student who did not like my son. My son was not overweight but underweight. He has been under normal weight for his age group his entire life. He weighed less than 75pounds and had medical problems( kidney disease) that affected his growth and ability to gain weight. His bullier couldn't understand why my son was so skinny . The bullying continued until my son hit him on the nose one day as hard as he could. My son was suspended from school for 1 day but the bullying stopped.. Now my grandson lives with us and he is turning into a bully. I intend to stop it before he gets further into it. Report
I was a "chubby" kid. Not obese but certainly chubby. And YES, I did receive a fair share of bullying due to it. Report
I was bullied in elementary school because of my weight. When I got in middle school it started all over again, until I had enough and punched the "leader" of the mean girls right in the mouth. While I look back now and think it probably wasn't the right way to handle it, the bullying stopped. I got detention, she got nothing. At the time that detention was well worth it.
Now I don't go to my daughters school functions because she gets picked on because of my size. Not her size because she is like a brick house, but mine. They can't find anything wrong with her so they pick on her about me, the one thing she can't control. My point is, these bullies are bullies because they have no respect. Not for themselves or anyone else. I have talked to her, and explained this, and she is pretty good at handling herself, but she shouldn't have to. The school systems need to have a zero tolerance policy for bullying just like they do for drugs and alcohol because apparently it is becoming just as deadly.
It's a lot easier to control the child's weight than to control the bullying! Report
I was bullied at school, as I was the fat kid. I was even bullied by the fattest kid in school, who was a boy, simply because he knew I wouldn't hit back - I never did, which is why the bullying went on for a decade. My mother complaining to the school on an almost weekly basis didn't do any good and the bullying only stopped when I snapped and beat the crud out of a skinny wee thing who thought she'd try her luck. She was very sorry she did and I was left well alone after that. But I still beat myself up for not acting sooner. I was bigger than nearly all of the kids who bullied me and I could've flattened them if I'd put my mind to it. Except I really hate physical violence and find it very hard to inflict pain on someone else, even when they're hurting me. I've taken steps to overcome this and I've advised the kids of family and friends to stand up for themself and not take the beatings in silence. Hitting back is sometimes the only way to stop the bullying. Sad, but true. Report
I am almost 62 years young and I hated elementry school as well as I was bullied even back then. I had a deformed foot and at times couldn't walk because of a health issue with that foot. I was called names, picked on and so on. My parents did everything they could do..talked to the parents of those doing it, which did no good as they denied their wonderful sons would do this. They talked to the teachers who tried to help but of course none of this was done when they were around. When I started n junior high things weren't so bad and then I began to succeed in music and the band, so I ignored any comments if there were any by then. I feel sorry for the kids today as it is so much worse. It seems nothing can be done about it and I feel sad because I know what it's like. Report
I don't know. When I was in school, I was a chubby kid. But anybody who messed with me - I was mean back. I could be sort of mean. So I didn't really have that problem. But then when I lost weight, girls would come up to me and tell me I looked good since I lost 50 pounds. but then the big girl club didn't like me anymore because I wasn't big enough for the big gurl club. oh well.

I know that being bigger can make you more vulnerable or more of a target, but I guess maybe you got to teach children to defend themselves, no matter what they look like. Being obese, is a physical health problem, its not a sign to have no self respect. just mho Report
I made sure that none of my five children were obese growing up. My dd is 19 now, 5'9" and 140# and I have taught her about eating right & NOT using food for emotional reasons. I had all of my children in JUDO Class (Martial Arts/Karate) from the time they were small, so no one bullied my children. In fact, in high school, some boys took food every day from my son's friend's tray, but NEVER bothered my son. One day Marc threw his tray down & asked the boys "Why don't you ever take Nick's food?" The big kid said "Oh, we know he has a Black Belt in Karate so we don't mess with him." My son said "You got that, as you'd get my size 13 foot up along side your head." He gave a Karate kick in the air, and that was the last day the group bothered them. My dd put 3 different boys on the ground in an arm-bar hold (JUDO) when she was bothered in 8th grade, after she WARNED each that she'd do it if they didn't leave her alone. Report
The problem is that many kids DON'T tell their parents, so if you are unaware, you can't do anything about it. But,if I am know about a problem, I am up and down the school administration, they better correct it Report
I was one of those overweight "bullied" children .It was very painful for me,I made the decision to quit school as a result. Report
In today's society it seems that there really doesn't have to be a REASON to invoke someone's disapproval.
I think it has more to do with the low value that people place on other people that is the main problem.

Teaching RESPECT to self and others should be revisited ...
I never had much trouble as an elementary student for bullying. I was tall and I had a temper. Only, I was the one who stood up for the little guy. It didn't matter what or who it was. If I saw something that wasn't right and that kid was being picked on? I was right behind them and going after the bully. I never thought that I was a hero or anything. I was just, I don't know, ticked that that was going on and someone had to stop it.

It was funny in a way too. The mean kids would sneer at me behind my back, but never in front of me. They knew I would not back down.

My daughter was teased one day for having pinworm. (My son told his friends). Instead of going to the school about it, I phoned the parents. They were not mad at me and accusing me of being overprotective. They had their sons go and meet her the next day and apologize. It made me so happy. I do think that that was a learning experience for those kids as well. If things go too far...parents could me notified by other parents.

Unfortunately that doesn't always happen. There is a boy in school where bullying has always been an issue about him. His parents don't disciplin and he gets away with anything. He is old enough to be charged for bullying now. It is law that anyone over 12 years can be charged.

I am sure that bullying was always an issue. Unfortunately, I think that it will never stop. Report
My son is 7 and weighs 100 lbs. Thankfully, he is also almost 5 ft tall. I am concerned about his weight, and have been making a lot of Spark recipes for the family. He also likes to weigh himself once a week when I weigh and do crunches and push ups with me. This article did really scare me though. I've been worried about his health and self-esteem in general, but I never considered bullying... Gives me one more reason to encourage healthful habits around here!! Report
I was fairly thin until I was about ten and then because of my height the weight really showed. I remember being teased a lot from that age on. I have a real problem with self esteem because of it. I have a hard time seeing myself the way that I am. I see something really ugly and disgusting in the mirror and feel that it is why I don't have many friends-I am afraid to put myself out there as I might be rejected. It is really hard the things from the past the affect our present and future. It is a real shame that people cannot accept people for the way they are on the inside. Report
My kids were bullied, it affected my daughter to the point of Post Traumatic Stress, I had to take her out of school and home school her. She has no weight issues, but she had large lips. How funny is that, people are now paying to have lips like hers. Unfortunately her school didn't handle the situation very well at all. This was 12 years ago.

My son took it very differently, last year he joined a bully committee that was offered in his school and tried to help spread the word that bullying is wrong and it is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and should not be tolerated...there's no excuses for it. When the committee scheduled a meeting for all the parents to attend, my son and I along with the 2 administrators were the only people who showed up. How sad is that?Pa But If the meeting had been about something involving food or fun, that school would have been packed to the max.

I blame the parents of the kids who bully. I don't know all the reasons why it happens, but I believe those kids aren't receiving enough love or attention at home and so they feel bad about themselves and come to school and take it out on others in order to make themselves feel better. I talk to my son all the time, everyday, I know when something is wrong, when he's had a bad day, I encourage him constantly to not let others determine his self-worth. I need all parents to love their children. Question them about their day, pay attention to what they're doing. Is your child the bully?

Fortunately my son's school handled the issue very well and the two kids who were doing it stopped immediately. But there are still incidences on the playground with other kids. We can't always be in control of how others treat us, but we can control how we treat ourselves and others. Report
I wasn't obese - I was a little overweight for my age. I also had a large bottom for my general body type. I was picked on for both my derriere and being overweight. Once in grade school, I was eating a cupcake and one of my classmates said, "Keep eating cupcakes and you'll get even fatter." I chased him across the playground, caught him, and punched him in the mouth. Later, I heard him telling his friends he didn't know people could haul "ghetto-booties" so fast. Children can be cruel, and they will choose the easiest target to bully. Often, overweight children are the most obviously different, so they are most easily bullied. Report
I think maybe the school districts that have more money might have students that tease and bully the obese kids , but some in some of the poorer districts being obese is very common and most of the classmates are obese. Being normal weight is more the exception than the rule. Report
I was bullied in school for many things one of which was my weight. I was not real heavy, but I was bigger than most of the other girls. I was called Bessie the cow and I remember sitting on my mother's lap crying many nights.

I also watched my daughter be teased. She was also not very heavy, but bigger than the other "preppy" girls. The kids called her a fat polish porker. I was constantly going to the teacher and principal. Very little was ever done. I kept getting "I cant believe that those children would do that." I even went with proof and still little was done. This led my daughter down a dark path. She became depresses and had no self esteem despite our efforts to improve it. She started cutting and tried to kill herself twice. We were fortunate and never lost her. She started seeing a psychologist which harmed her even more. This lady was telling her at the tender age of 14 that sex was good. So guess what, she started with very risky behavior having sex and drinking. At 17 she ended up pregnant and is now a teen mom. Fortunately we have been able to reverse some of the harm done by those awful kids but a great deal will always haunt her. She missed out on some of the pleasant life experiences all because of teasing.

Things are worse than ever all because the school and parents are not actively working to stop it Report
I was bullied in school not because of my weight, but because my parents didn't have money. To this day I am still very self concious about many things, but I try not to let them bother me as much. My sil's on my dh's side are pretty and on the thinner side. I wonder if I even fit in sometimes. Things like this stick with you your entire life! I remember walking to the bus stop with knots in my stomach wondering if the two girls that bullied me would be there. Even though I had a 5 minute ride on the bus, I still hated it. I do talk to one of those girls today when I see her, but still.

My nephew had gone to a private school until this year when he went to the middle school in 4th grade. he was getting bullied because his ears are a bit big and stick out a bit further than normal. My sil contacted the school and the bus company and as far as I know it was taken care of. Kids can be so cruel, but parents are ultimately the ones to be responsible for their child's behavior. Maybe the bulliers aren't getting what they need at home. My oldest, who will be 10 in August, has teeth that stick out. Kids called him buck tooth beaver. It hurt my feelings and I did cry because I saw him hurting. He also fell against the building at school and chipped his two front permanent teeth. The bondings don't last too long. He will be ready for braces soon as he has lost most of his teeth, so maybe we can get them fixed sooner. When my kids hurt, I hurt. Report
I teach 5th grade and I have never in all my years of teaching seen the amount of bullying I have had to deal with this year. But with the national coverage of Pheboe in South Hadley MA, I think that if bullying is not addressed in elementary schools, it explodes by high school/ Report
I'm very confused by the fact that they say bullying peaks between ages 6 and 9. What the heck are they using as the definition of bullying??? I work at a middle school, and I guarantee that the most harassment, fighting, ostracizing, and manipulative behavior goes on with 11-13 year olds.

And sadly, there are a lot of school policies that allow this. I've worked in schools where the principals literally told the entire student body that they, as an administration, would ignore cyber bullying (that is, bullying that happens on facebook or through texting), and they no longer suspend or effectively discipline the bullies. Then they wondered why they had a problem with the baseball team calling their Muslim teammate a terrorist??

But you know who did deal with the bullying problems that were visible? The teachers and paraeducators. So if you think your child is being bullied, CALL THE TEACHER. They have a better feeling for what goes on in the classroom than the principals do. You can trust a teacher to not only address the bully and see that the bully is punished, but the teacher can also create lessons that teach the children about tolerance and openly address the issue of bullying. So let the teachers be an ally -- they will make the right choice, no matter what the principals say. Report
When I was young, I was always the biggest size girl, or even in the class, and I get bullied. Because although I have a big size, but I am an introvert. I did not have confidence in myself. It was like hell and I had no friends.

That is why I am on SP now, wanting to change everything. Report
The reason bullying exists is because so many parents and schools choose to ignore it when it goes on. There needs to be stiff punishments against bullies. Not just a lecture in the principal's office. Report
People are cruel to any who don't fit in for any reason.We need to teach our young to treat others as you want to be treated ! Report
My son was not overweight, infact he was on the skinny side. He was picked on because we taught our children to respect others, to use their words to make a point, and only fight if the other person hits or touches you first. Didn't work out too well in school. My son was later diagnosed with "Aspergers" syndrome, mild but still a problem. He did not like children his own age because they didn't act right and were mean. By the time he was in 7th grade it was a everyday occurance. The school was aware of this. In the middle of 8th grade he had finally had enough and swung back at his tormentors. Yes he got suspended for 1 day, the other 3 boys got 3 days. After that he was left alone most of the time but still hated school and was ready to drop out by 9th grade. Bullying when it is done none stop for whatever reason can be very tough on any child when you are different from the other kids in your school. Report
Bullying has gone on for years, though not as bad, I don't think, as what it is now. I remember when I was at school, many years ago, these girls used to bully my friends and myself. Then one day I had had enough! I stood up to them, faced them fair and square, (my knees were hitting off each other, but I didn't let them know that). After that day they never bothered us again! Report
Not only are they bullied, they can also be isolated from the rest of the class. How do you explain to a child why they are not invited to the party that everyone else was invited too?. It's not fair. When my youngest daughter was in grade school, certain children were excluded, she being one of them. These exclude children formed their own group and are now all in college. Can you believe they have been the best of friends since Kindergarden and still remain very close to this day. They are only "group" that is still together to this day. Report
As so many of you rightly said...bullying is everwhere....and its done in many forms.....for any number of foolish reasons....to inflict fear......I'm 59 and when i was 8-9 this girl for whatever reason,always taunted me,name calling,she was older probably 11-12.....I told my Mother who spoke to her,this made no difference..............One day she made the mistake of touching me,which she'd never done before on my way home.....I forgot she was bigger.....I was thin but strong....I tore loose on her,raining down some good blows with my book bag.......
and away I ran home..........Surprisingly her mother never came to complain....So I guess she never told her...The out come.....LOL.....That was the end of the taunting..................In these times things are different.......i don't advocate violence.. but we've got to speak to our kids or grands and let them know......to speak out and tell us if these things occur.......and we should be ready to take steps...to sort these things out........Morals are declining....some of the young are filled with.....too much anger.....And they have much more than my generation..... Report
Most children are cruel! You are right that they learn it somewhere and my guess is at home. We have to be there for our children and instill in them that just because someone is different they shouldn't bully them. It can't be fixed over night! Report
Kids will always bully those who are different. I was super skinny when I was a kid and I was bullied for that and other reasons (glasses, taller than the boys etc.) The best thing to do is to talk to your kids and tell them that it might hurt now but it will only stay with them if they let it. If it is a real problem take it up with the school or the parents of the bully but chances are they learned it from somewhere. Report
I was picked on for being chubby as a kid. I wasn't obese, and I'm not chubby now as I've lost the weight but I remember getting picked on! I remember the first time I finally got a two piece was a tankini and boyshort kind of suit and i STILL got made fun of for it! "Why didnt you cover up everything?" blah blah blah...

I don't have kids, but I personally know that people bully "the fat kids." Report
I believe it, but I wonder why because so many children are obese now than ever before. Maybe they don't like seeing themselves in others? Hmmm... Food for thought. But most importantly, just make sure YOUR kids aren't bullies! Report
I'd rather see the government spend money on enhancing our children's health and well-being than on pointless wars in faraway countries. Why is government spending such an issue all of a sudden and why weren't you people complaining about it 5 years ago? Report
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