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Obese kids are bigger targets for bullies, study finds

May 2, 2010 |  9:01 pm

As if obese kids didn’t have enough to worry about – increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – researchers from the University of Michigan have documented another concern: being picked on by bullies.

Bully Apparently this isn’t a brand-new area of research. One study warned that bullying “may hinder the short- and long-term social and psychological development of overweight and obese youth,” and another suggested it may help explain why overweight children have more school absences than their slimmer peers. But prior studies did not control for social skills, academic achievement, socioeconomic status or other demographic factors, according to the the researchers.

The new study is based on 821 elementary school students from around the country who were tracked as part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The survey data include incidences of bullying reported by children, mothers and teachers.

The researchers found that obese children were 63% more likely to be victims of bullies in the third, fifth and sixth grades. In fact, the risk for obese kids (versus healthy-weight kids) was greater than the risk for boys (versus girls), according to the study.

With 17% of 6- to 11-year-olds considered obese, that could translate into a lot of extra bullying.

The findings will appear in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: Kids with extra weight are bigger targets for bullies. Credit: Cheryl Evans / Associated Press

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Comments (14)

OK my experience has been that it is the bullies that are fat, and the victims are short and skinny. I was on the school track team and defended many little kids from big bullies. Hey, ever remember the phrase - go away you big fat bully. It is could be that you forgot about that concrete jungle known as the class room.

I hope it did not cost anyone actual money to uncover the results of this study.

Bullies pick on anyone who is different and easily victimized.

This is why gang stalking has become so huge - and profitable.

If you are a bully , join a gang stalking group and you can make good money stalking , harassing , poisoning and irradiating people and NOBODY will bother you. Not the police. Not the government.

I have to say, first, no duh. Second, this study seems really sketchy to me. OF COURSE obese kids get bullied more. But the fact that more parents report their kids getting bullied than kids do tells me something else I can see with my own eyes: parents are oversensitive to their kids being bullied. Anyway, for more on my take on this, please check out my blog,, which examines all things awful about being a parent and a kid. In a funny way.

this of course carries on into adulthood.

the difference being outright bullying from childhood turns into discrimination in adulthood.

I thought the FAT OBESE KIDS bullied kids that look better than they ever watch "Every body hates Chris" T.V. show???

Any parent dumb enough to let there kids get this way should be put away. This is a sad story sure America has made it easy with all of the electronics that make sure your LAZY butt doesnt have to move off the couch. Cmon get the pigs out of the house like we did in our childhood. Who wanted to be inside the house this long? The only thing I feel sorry for is the poor couch.

This is news?

Nice tag line. Any real news to report or are you going to just keep your reporters on non-news. Doesn't surprise me for the Times. The LA Weekly gives more news. This reminds me of the useless studies they fund in the UK and blare all over BBC with no effect either.

Nice tag line. Any real news to report or are you going to just keep your reporters on non-news. Doesn't surprise me for the Times. The LA Weekly gives more news. This reminds me of the useless studies they fund in the UK and blare all over BBC with no effect either.


As a fat child in a new school I was teased, teased, teased from 5-8th grade. It subsided in high school when kids were a little more human and I lost a bit of weight, but for a long time I was hesitant to speak up, stand out, or draw attention to myself for fear of the comments I'd hear. I didn't date, I didn't open up to people, I kept to myself. Those are things that follow you for years; it was traumatizing.

Some may say parents are over sensitive, but that certainly wasn't anything I saw. I was raised by a single parent, and in many cases teachers were aware of the bullying b/c it happened in class. If parents and teachers were over zealous about reporting/policing bullying then clearly it wouldn't be such a big problem.

My slim, good looking son gets bullied a lot by overweight, not so good looking boys at his school. I told my son that those big bullies don't like themselves and that's why they pick on him, trying to tear him down and make him feel bad about himself. As adults, I find that most people that say negative things to me are overweight with no self esteem. I definitely agree with seobro.

They make BIGGER targets. Duh.

New Study Reveals: Water is Wet! --
And that study also documented obese kids are many times more likely to BECOME bullies, too. If your kid is out of control, you should get them some help.


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