The Sad Link Between Bullying & Obesity

We all remember the horror of P.E. class. Being the last one picked for sports, getting teased for not being able to run, jump or climb as well as the other kids, having to change in front of everyone; it was all pretty horrible.

Now new research shows that kids who are bullied during P.E. classes or other physical activities like team sports are less likely to participate in physical activity a year later.

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that overweight or obese children who are teased during physical activity have a lower perceived health-related quality of life a year later. It was also found that kids at a healthy weight who experience bullying were less likely to exercise a year after the bullying took place.

“Our finding that this applies to normal-weight kids also was novel,” Chad Jensen, psychology professor and lead author of the study, said.

Studies had already linked bullying to decreased physical activity for obese or overweight children, but had not looked at the effects of bullying on other kids.

Students who took part in this study were 4th and 5th graders from six elementary schools in the Midwest. They were asked to complete three surveys at the beginning of the study, and then again a year later.

“Overweight kids who were teased reported poorer functional ability across domains (physical, social, academic and physical,” Jensen said. “If we can help them to have better perception of their physical and social skills, then physical activity may increase and health-related quality is likely to improve.”

Questions from the surveys asked about being made fun of when playing sports or exercising, not being chosen to be on a sports team or others looking or acting upset when the child was placed on the team, and being called insulting names when playing sports or exercising.

Though kids are often taught that “chattering” or “heckling” others during physical activity and sports is alright, this study shows that such bullying can be detrimental.

Jensen hopes that better bullying awareness will curb any effect it can have on children and their physical activity.

“We hope our study will raise awareness that educators should consider bullying prevention during physical education and free play (recess) when kids may be discouraged from being physically active because of teasing experiences.”


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Dianne T.
Dianne T4 years ago

I am afraid this is true but it also common snense and logical - did they get paid good money to come up with this?

d h
d H4 years ago

Obesity, getting fat and unattractive, has been cited in psychiatric journals for 5 decades as a defense against social ostracization.

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert4 years ago

It's part of what happened to me. And it was a horror show.

PrimaSICK B.
PrimaAWAY B4 years ago

It is sad and yes people tease and bully the chubbier kids. I saw this done when I was in school and I use to go and sit next the same few people it always happened to. I would sit and talk to them or even have them as friends. I didn't care if they were fat. I think It's disgusting.

Gifted Grant
Gifted Grant4 years ago

I was a chubby teen and had no problem with being teased. I had plenty of friends, and was very outgoing. Anyway, if anyone had teased me, I would have punched them.

Jonathan Harper
Jonathan Harper4 years ago


Val M.
Val M4 years ago


Michael A.
Michael A4 years ago


Katherine May Williams

I'm so glad I'm not a kid/teen these days. I can well imagine the scale of bullying that the internet would have brought down upon me had it been as widely used then as it is now. I hope schools are trying to do something about it. No-one should have to suffer bullying.

Vicky B.
Vicky B4 years ago

I don't think we had any problem in our year at school with that luckily. Nobody appreciated the kit that they supplied (shorts and a t shirt), then they would feel self conscious. We all teased each other but playfully, everyone had a laugh as none of us fancied running around at nine a clock on a Monday morning. Which was weird because there was plenty of other things that everyone bullied each other about. Most of my class focused on our obese pe teacher that stood at the side-lines and screamed at us, and wondered how he got to be a physical education teacher. Something that happened whilst you were at school is always going to haunt you in your adult life. Kids can be cruel. Thank you for sharing this article,